Derivation, characterization, and phenotypic variation of hepatic progenitor cell lines isolated from adult rats



Liver progenitor cells (LPCs) cloned from adult rat livers following allyl alcohol injury express hematopoietic stem cell and early hepatic lineage markers when cultured on feeder layers; under these conditions, neither mature hepatocyte nor bile duct, Ito, stellate, Kupffer cell, or macrophage markers are detected. These phenotypes have remained stable without aneuploidy or morphological transformation after more than 100 population doublings. When cultured without feeder layers, the early lineage markers disappear, and mature hepatocyte markers are expressed; mature hepatocytic differentiation and cell size are also augmented by polypeptide and steroidal growth factors. In contrast to hepatocytic potential, duct-like structures and biliary epithelial markers are expressed on Matrigel. Because they were derived without carcinogens or mutagens, these bipotential LPC lines provide novel tools for models of cellular plasticity and hepatocarcinogenesis, as well as lines for use in cellular transplantation, gene therapy, and bioreactor construction.