Hepatic differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells by developmental stage-related metabolomics products

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10 Scopus citations


Endogenous cell signals regulate tissue homeostasis and are significant for directing the fate of stem cells. During liver development, cytokines released from various cell types are critical for stem/progenitor cell differentiation and lineage expansions. To determine mechanisms in these stage-specific lineage interactions, we modeled potential effects of soluble signals derived from immortalized human fetal liver parenchymal cells on stem cells, including embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells. For identifying lineage conversion and maturation, we utilized conventional assays of cell morphology, gene expression analysis and lineage markers. Molecular pathway analysis used functional genomics approaches. Metabolic properties were analyzed to determine the extent of hepatic differentiation. Cell transplantation studies were performed in mice with drug-induced acute liver failure to elicit benefits in hepatic support and tissue regeneration. These studies showed signals emanating from fetal liver cells induced hepatic differentiation in stem cells. Gene expression profiling and comparison of regulatory networks in immature and mature hepatocytes revealed stem cell-derived hepatocytes represented early fetal-like stage. Unexpectedly, differentiation-inducing soluble signals constituted metabolomics products and not proteins. In stem cells exposed to signals from fetal cells, mechanistic gene networks of upstream regulators decreased pluripotency, while simultaneously inducing mesenchymal and epithelial properties. The extent of metabolic and synthetic functions in stem cell-derived hepatocytes was sufficient for providing hepatic support along with promotion of tissue repair to rescue mice in acute liver failure. During this rescue, paracrine factors from transplanted cells contributed in stimulating liver regeneration. We concluded that hepatic differentiation of pluripotent stem cells with metabolomics products will be significant for developing therapies. The differentiation mechanisms involving metabolomics products could have an impact on advancing recruitment of stem/progenitor cells during tissue homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)54-70
Number of pages17
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Cell therapy
  • Endoderm
  • Gene expression
  • Liver
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Transcription

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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