Bone marrow fails to differentiate into liver epithelium during murine development and regeneration


  • Potential conflict of interest: Nothing to report.


Recent reports have provided conflicting conclusions regarding the role for bone marrow (BM)–derived cells in the regeneration of liver. Our aim was to investigate the potential of BM to contribute to liver epithelium using different BM transplant models designed to explore differentiation during normal liver development and regeneration after toxic injury. BM cells from transgenic green fluorescent protein (GFP) mice were injected into neonatal and adult immunodeficient and neonatal immune-competent mice. Three distinct models of liver injury were employed to test the contribution of marrow to the regeneration of hepatocytes, cholangiocytes, and oval cells in immune-deficient adult animals after neonatal transplant. Immunohistochemistry was combined with flow cytometry (FACS) and reverse transcription (RT)-PCR to increase the sensitivity and specificity of the analyses. Although GFP+ marrow-derived cells were observed in the livers of all transplanted animals, immunohistochemistry failed to demonstrate any marrow derived hepatocytes or cholangiocytes. FACS confirmed that GFP+ marrow-derived cells in the liver maintained expression of CD45, a leukocyte marker. Gene expression studies of GFP+ cells isolated by FACS failed to demonstrate expression of liver specific genes in these marrow-derived cells. Conclusion: Through highly sensitive and specific analyses, we were unable to demonstrate any evidence of transdifferentiation of BM-derived cells into epithelial hepatic tissue during the period of rapid growth in the neonatal period. Furthermore, although increased migration of hematopoietic cells to the liver occurred after toxic injury, these cells did not contribute directly to the replacement of hepatocytes, cholangiocytes, or oval cells. (HEPATOLOGY 2007;45:1250–1260.)