Isolation of primary human hepatocytes & LiMax-test
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Tissue Engineering (Part C: Methods) accepted our paper entitled "The predictive value of the LiMAx-test for the isolation of primary human hepatocytes".
Authors are R.D. Major, M. Kluge, M. Jara, M. Nösser, R. Horner, J. Gassner, B. Struecker, P. Tang, S. Lippert, A. Reutzel-Selke, D. Geisel, T. Denecke, M. Stockmann, J. Pratschke, I.M. Sauer, and N. Raschzok.

The need for primary human hepatocytes is constantly growing, for basic research as well as for therapeutic applications. However, the isolation outcome strongly depends on the quality of liver tissue, and we are still lacking a preoperative test that allows the prediction of the hepatocyte isolation outcome. Here we evaluated the “maximal liver function capacity test” (LiMAx) as predictive test for the quantitative and qualitative outcome of hepatocyte isolation. This test is already used in clinical routine to measure preoperative and to predict postoperative liver function.
The patient’s preoperative mean LiMAx was obtained from the patient records and preoperative CT and MRI images were used to calculate the whole liver volume in order to adjust the mean LiMAx. The outcome parameters of the hepatocyte isolation procedures were analyzed in correlation with the adjusted mean LiMAx.
Primary human hepatocytes were isolated from partial hepatectomies (n=64).
From these 64 hepatectomies we included 48 to our study and correlated their isolation outcome parameters with volume corrected LiMAx values. From a total of 11 hepatocyte isolation procedures, metabolic parameters (albumin, urea and aspartate aminotransferase) were assessed during the hepatocyte cultivation period of 5 days. The volume adjusted mean LiMAx showed a significant positive correlation with the total cell yield (p= 0.049;r= 0.242;n= 48). The correlations of volume adjusted LiMAx values with viable cell yield and cell viability did not reach statistical significance. A sub-group analysis of isolations from patients with colorectal metastasis revealed a significant correlation between volume adjusted mean LiMAx and total cell yield (p= 0.012;r= 0.488;n= 21) and viable cell yield (p=0.034;r=0.405;n=21). Whereas a sub-group analysis of isolations of patients with carcinoma of the biliary tree showed significant correlations of volume adjusted mean LiMAx with cell viability (r= 0.387;p= 0.046;n=20) and lacked significant correlations with total cell yield (r= - 0.060;p= 0.401;n=20) and viable cell yield (r= 0.012;p= 0.480;n=20). The volume-adjusted mean LiMAx did not show a significant correlation with any of the metabolic parameters. In conclusion, the LiMAx-test might be a useful tool to predict the quantitative outcome of hepatocyte isolation, as long as underlying liver disease is taken into consideration.
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Cells isolated from diseased explanted livers
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The International Journal of Artificial Organs (official journal of the European Society for Artificial Organs [ESAO]) published our paper on Isolation, characterization and cold storage of cells isolated from diseased explanted livers. Authors are Belaschk E, Rohn S, Mukiibi R, Reutzel-Selke A, Tang P, Sawitzki B, Pratschke J, Sauer IM and Mogl MT.

Livers discarded after standard organ retrieval are commonly used as a cell source for hepatocyte transplantation. Due to the scarcity of organ donors, this leads to a shortage of suitable cells for transplantation. Here, the isolation of liver cells from diseased livers removed during liver transplantation is studied and compared to the isolation of cells from liver specimens obtained during partial liver resection. Hepatocytes from 20 diseased explanted livers (Ex-group) were isolated, cultured and stored at 4°C for up to 48 hours, and compared to hepatocytes isolated from the normal liver tissue of 14 liver lobe resections (Rx-group). The nonparenchymal cell fraction (NPC) was analyzed by flow cytometry to identify potential liver progenitor cells, and OptiPrep™ (Sigma-Aldrich) density gradient centrifugation was used to enrich the progenitor cells for immediate transplantation. There were no differences in viability, cell integrity and metabolic activity in cell culture and survival after cold storage when comparing the hepatocytes from the Rx-group and the Ex-group. In some cases, the latter group showed tendencies of increased resistance to isolation and storage procedures. The NPC of the Ex-group livers contained considerably more EpCAM+ and significantly more CD90+ cells than the Rx-group. Progenitor cell enrichment was not sufficient for clinical application. Hepatocytes isolated from diseased explanted livers showed the essential characteristics of being adequate for cell transplantation. Increased numbers of liver progenitor cells can be isolated from diseased explanted livers. These results support the feasibility of using diseased explanted livers as a cell source for liver cell transplantation.
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Magnetic field and cells labeled with IO particles
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Our paper entitled "The magnetic field of magnetic resonance imaging systems does not affect cells labeled with micrometer-sized iron oxide particles," has been accepted for publication in Tissue Engineering, Part C: Methods. Authors are Martin Kluge, Annekatrin Leder, Karl H. Hillebrandt, Benjamin Struecker, Dominik Geisel, Timm Denecke, Rebeka D. Major, Anja Reutzel-Selke, Peter Tang, Steffen Lippert, Christian Schmidt, Johann Pratschke, Igor M. Sauer, and Nathanael Raschzok.

Labeling using iron oxide particles enables cell tracking via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). However, the magnetic field can affect the particle-labeled cells. Here, we investigated the effects of a clinical MRI system on primary human hepatocytes labeled using micrometer-sized iron oxide particles (MPIOs).  HuH7 tumor cells were incubated with increasing concentrations of biocompatible, silica-based, micron-sized iron oxide-containing particles (sMPIO; 40 – 160 particles/cell). Primary human hepatocytes were incubated with 100 sMPIOs/cell. The particle-labeled cells and the native cells were imaged using a clinical 3.0-T MRI system, whereas the control groups of the labeled and unlabeled cells were kept at room temperature without exposure to a magnetic field. Viability, formation of reactive oxygen species, aspartate aminotransferase leakage, and urea and albumin synthesis were assessed over a culture period of 5 days. 
The dose finding study showed no adverse effects of the sMPIO labeling on HuH7 cells. MRI had no adverse effects on the morphology of the sMPIO-labeled primary human hepatocytes. Imaging using the T1- and T2-weighted sequences did not affect the viability, transaminase leakage, formation of reactive oxygen species, or metabolic activity of the sMPIO-labeled cells or the unlabeled, primary human hepatocytes. sMPIOs did not induce adverse effects on the labeled cells under the conditions of the magnetic field of a clinical MRI system.
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NeoHybrid liver graft – proof of concept
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Cells Tissues Organs accepted our latest paper on "Allogeneic liver transplantation and subsequent syngeneic hepatocyte transplantation in a rat model – proof of concept for in vivo tissue engineering" for publication.

Authors are Susanne Rohn, Jan Schroeder, Henriette Riedel, Dietrich Polenz, Katarina Stanko, Anja Reutzel-Selke, Peter Tang, Lydia Brusendorf, Nathanael Raschzok, Peter Neuhaus, Johann Pratschke, Birgit Sawitzki, Igor M. Sauer, and Martina T. Mogl.

Aim of the project was the evaluation of a new concept for in vivo tissue engineering using autologous primary human hepatocytes and hepatic progenitor cells isolated from diseased livers explanted during orthotopic liver transplantation (LTx). Cells will be isolated and infused into the spleen for repopulation of the allogeneic liver graft. The latter is serving as biological matrix for the engraftment of autologous cells. Once these cells have engrafted, it is assumed that autologous cells will repopulate the allogeneic liver, since they should have a selective advantage due to their autologous origin. It is postulated that this will lead to a neo-hybrid liver graft, reducing immunogenicity and inducing immunoregulation thus minimizing the need for extensive immunosuppression and eventually inducing operational tolerance. 

We therefore developed a new rat model for combined liver and liver cell transplantation under stable immunosuppression. Immunohistochemistry demonstrated the engraftment of transplanted cells, as confirmed by fluorescence in-situ hybridization, showing repopulation of the liver graft with 15.6 % male cells (± 1.8 SEM) at day 90. The quantitative PCR revealed 14.15 % (mean ± 5.09 SEM) male DNA at day 90. Engraftment of transplanted autologous cells after combined liver and cell transplantation was achieved for up to 90 days under immunosuppression. Immunohistochemistry indicated cell proliferation, and the fluorescence in-situ hybridization results were partly confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR. This new protocol in rats appears feasible to address long-term function and eventually induction of operational tolerance in the future.
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Human hepatocyte isolation – new paper
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Tissue Engineering, Part C: Methods accepted our paper „Human hepatocyte isolation: Does portal vein embolization affect the outcome?“ Authors are Martin Kluge, Anja Reutzel-Selke, Hendrik Napierala, Karl H. Hillebrandt, Rebeka D. Major, Benjamin Struecker, Annekatrin Leder, Jeffrey Siefert, Peter Tang, Steffen Lippert, Daniel Seehofer, Johann Pratschke, Igor M. Sauer und Nathanael Raschzok.

Primary human hepatocytes are widely used for basic research, pharmaceutical testing, and therapeutic concepts in regenerative medicine. Human hepatocytes can be isolated from resected liver tissue. Preoperative portal vein embolization (PVE) is increasingly used to decrease the risk of delayed postoperative liver regeneration by induction of selective hypertrophy of the future remnant liver tissue. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of PVE on the outcome of hepatocyte isolation. Primary human hepatocytes were isolated from liver tissue obtained from partial hepatectomies (n=190) using the two-step collagenase perfusion technique followed by Percoll purification. Of these hepatectomies, 27 isolations (14.2%) were performed using liver tissue obtained from patients undergoing PVE prior to surgery. All isolations were characterized using parameters that had been described in the literature as relevant for the outcome of hepatocyte isolation. The PVE and non-PVE groups were similar in regard to donor parameters (sex, age, indication for surgery), isolation parameters (liver weight, cold ischemic time), and the quality of the liver tissue. The mean initial viable cell yield did not differ between the PVE and non-PVE groups (10.16±2.03x106 cells/g vs. 9.70±0.73 x106 cells/g, p=0.499). The initial viability was slightly better in the PVE-group (77.8 ±2.03% vs. 74.4 ±1.06%). The mean viable cell yield (p=0.819) and the mean viability (p=0.141) after Percoll purification did not differ between the groups. PVE had no effect on enzyme leakage and metabolic activity of cultured hepatocytes.  Although PVE leads to drastic metabolic alterations and changes in hepatic blood flow, embolized liver tissue is a suitable source for the isolation of primary human hepatocytes and is equivalent to untreated liver tissue in regard to cell yield and viability.
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Improved cold storage of human hepatocytes
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As a first result of our latest projects concerning the role of miRNA in liver regeneration the American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology has accepted our paper "Temporal expression profiles indicate a primary function for microRNA during the peak of DNA replication after rat partial hepatectomy": The liver has the unique capacity to regenerate after surgical resection. However, the regulation of liver regeneration is not completely understood. Recent reports indicate an essential role for small non-coding microRNAs (miRNAs) in the regulation of hepatic development, carcinogenesis, and early regeneration. We hypothesized that miRNAs are critically involved in all phases of liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy. We performed miRNA microarray analyses after 70% partial hepatectomy in rats under isoflurane anesthesia at different time points (0 hours - 5 days) and after sham laparotomy. Putative targets of differentially expressed miRNAs were determined using a bioinformatic approach. 2D-PAGE proteomic analyses and protein identification were performed on specimens at 0 and 24 hours after resection. The temporal dynamics of liver regeneration were characterized by BrdU, PCNA, IL-6, and HGF. We demonstrate that miRNA expression patterns changed during liver regeneration and that these changes were most evident during the peak of DNA replication at 24 hours after resection. Expression of thirteen miRNAs was significantly reduced 12-48 hours after resection (> 25% change), ouf of which downreguation was confirmed in isolated hepatocytes for 6 miRNAs at 24 hours, whereas three miRNAs were significantly upregulated. Proteomic analysis revealed 65 upregulated proteins; among them 23 represent putative targets of the differentially expressed miRNAs. We provide a temporal miRNA expression and proteomic dataset of the regenerating rat liver, which indicates a primary function for miRNA during the peak of DNA replication. These data will assist further functional studies on the role of miRNAs during liver regeneration. Authors are N. Raschzok, W. Werner, H. Sallmon, N. Billecke, C. Dame, P. Neuhaus and I.M. Sauer.
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Tanja Deurholt's paper on "Novel immortalized human fetal liver cell line, cBAL111, has the potential to differentiate into functional hepatocytes" is published in BMC Biotechnology. Co-authors are Niek P. van Til, Aniska A. Chhatta, Lysbeth ten Bloemendaal, Ruth Schwartlander, Catherine Payne, John N. Plevris, Igor M. Sauer, Robert A.F.M. Chamuleau, Ronald P.J. Oude Elferink, Jurgen Seppen, and Ruurdtje Hoekstra.
A clonal cell line that combines both stable hepatic function and proliferation capacity is desirable for in vitro applications that depend on hepatic function, such as pharmacological or toxicological assays and bioartificial liver systems. The article describes the generation and characterization of a clonal human cell line for in vitro hepatocyte applications.Cell clones derived from human fetal liver cells were immortalized by over-expression of telomerase reverse transcriptase. The resulting cell line, cBAL111, displayed hepatic functionality similar to the parental cells prior to immortalization, and did not grow in soft agar. Cell line cBAL111 expressed markers of immature hepatocytes, like glutathione S transferase and cytokeratin 19, as well as progenitor cell marker CD146 and was negative for lidocaine elimination. On the other hand, the cBAL111 cells produced urea, albumin and cytokeratin 18 and eliminated galactose. In contrast to hepatic cell lines NKNT-3 and HepG2, all hepatic functions were expressed in cBAL111, although there was considerable variation in their levels compared with primary mature hepatocytes. When transplanted in the spleen of immunodeficient mice, cBAL111 engrafted into the liver and partly differentiated into hepatocytes showing expression of human albumin and carbamoylphosphate synthetase without signs of cell fusion. This novel liver cell line has the potential to differentiate into mature hepatocytes to be used for in vitro hepatocyte applications.
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