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Could co-transplantation of iPS cells derived hepatocytes and MSCs cure end-stage liver disease?


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Orthotopic liver transplantation is, to date, the only proven effective treatment for end-stage liver disease. However, it suffers from lack of donors and immunorejection. Here, we speculate that co-transplantation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells derived hepatocytes and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) may offer an alternative way to treat patients with end-stage liver disease. Recently, progress on iPS cells, homogeneous differentiation of hepatocyte-like cells from embryonic stem cells (ESCs), and paracrine effects by MSCs highlight the possibility. Safe, efficient and rapid generation of iPS cells has been reliably produced by several experimental laboratories. Methods for highly efficient and homogeneous differentiation of ESCs into functional hepatocytes have been established as well. Moreover, paracrine effects by MSCs have been proven to play an important role in liver regeneration and repair, and the effects can be used as an enhancer for engraftment. All of these remarkable developments lead to this hypothesis which may offer a novel therapeutic strategy for treatment of patients with end-stage liver disease, though some issues about safety and efficacy need to be further guaranteed.