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Abstract

To optimize strategies for liver-directed cell therapy, prevention of initial transplanted cell losses is particularly important for subsequent liver repopulation. After cell transplantation in hepatic sinusoids, perturbations in hepatic microcirculation along with changes in various liver cell types are among the earliest changes. Therefore, for advancing further concepts in cell engraftment we studied vascular and related events in the liver after transplanting syngeneic hepatocytes into dipeptidyl peptidase IV-deficient rats. We treated rats with vascular drugs to define whether deleterious cell transplantation-induced events could be controlled followed by improvements in transplanted cell engraftment and proliferation. We found cell transplantation altered liver gene expression related to vessel tone, inflammation, cell adhesion, thrombosis, or tissue damage/remodeling. This was due to hepatic ischemia, endothelial injury, and activation of neutrophils, Kupffer cells, and hepatic stellate cells. Treatment of rats before cell transplantation with the angiotensin converting enzyme blocker, lisinopril, or angiotensin II receptor blocker, losartan, did not improve cell engraftment. By contrast, direct-acting nitroglycerine or prostacyclin improved cell engraftment and also kinetics of liver repopulation. These drugs lowered hepatic ischemia and inflammation, whereas pretreatment of rats with the dual endothelin-1 receptor blocker, bosentan, improved cell engraftment independently of hepatic ischemia or inflammation, without improving liver repopulation. However, incubation of hepatocytes with bosentan protected cells from cytokine toxicity in vitro and produced superior cell engraftment and proliferation in vivo. Conclusion: Cell transplantation-induced changes in hepatic microcirculation contributed to transplanted cell clearances from liver. Vascular drugs, such as nitroglycerine, prostacyclin, and bosentan, offer opportunities for improving cell therapy results through superior cell engraftment and liver repopulation. Ongoing clinical use of these drugs will permit rapid translation of the findings in people. (HEPATOLOGY 2013)