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Abstract

The effectiveness of human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell (hBMSC) transplantation to treat acute and chronic liver injury has been demonstrated in animal models and in a few nonrandomized clinical trials. However, no studies have investigated hBMSC transplantation in the treatment of fulminant hepatic failure (FHF), especially in large animal (pig) models. The aim of this study was to demonstrate the safety, effectiveness, and underlying mechanism of hBMSC transplantation for treating FHF in pigs through the intraportal route. Human BMSCs (3 × 107) were transplanted into pigs with FHF via the intraportal route or peripheral vein immediately after D-galactosamine injection, and a sham group underwent intraportal transplantation (IPT) without cells (IPT, peripheral vein transplantation [PVT], and control groups, respectively, n = 15 per group). All of the animals in the PVT and control groups died of FHF within 96 hours. In contrast, 13 of 15 animals in the IPT group achieved long-term survival (>6 months). Immunohistochemistry demonstrated that transplanted hBMSC-derived hepatocytes in surviving animals were widely distributed in the hepatic lobules and the liver parenchyma from weeks 2 to 10. Thirty percent of the hepatocytes were hBMSC-derived. However, the number of transplanted cells decreased significantly at week 15. Only a few single cells were scattered in the regenerated liver lobules at week 20, and the liver tissues exhibited a nearly normal structure. Conclusion: Immediate IPT of hBMSCs is a safe and effective treatment for FHF. The transplanted hBMSCs may quickly participate in liver regeneration via proliferation and transdifferentiation into hepatocytes during the initial stage of FHF. This method can possibly be used in future clinical therapy. (HEPATOLOGY 2012;56:1044–1052)