Mouse A6–positive hepatic oval cells also express several hematopoietic stem cell markers



Hepatic oval cells (HOC) are thought to be a type of facultative stem cell that arises as a result of certain forms of hepatic injury. A new and more efficient model has been established to activate the oval cell compartment in mice by incorporating 3,5-diethoxycarbonyl-1,4-dihydro-collidine (DDC) in a standard chow at a concentration of 0.1%. At the present time, very few markers exist for the mouse oval cells. One accepted marker is A6, an uncharacterized epitope recognized by mouse hepatic oval cells and it is accepted to be an oval cell marker. Sca-1 is a cell surface marker used to identify hematopoietic stem cells in conjunction with Thy-1+, CD34+, and lineage-specific markers. Both the CD34 and Sca-1 antigens are not normally expressed in adult liver, but are expressed in fetal liver, presumably on the hematopoietic cells. We report herein that mouse oval cells express high levels of Sca-1 and CD34, as well as CD45 surface proteins. Immunohistochemistry revealed that the cells expressing Sca-1/CD34/CD45 were indeed oval cells because they co-expressed the oval cell–specific marker A6 (94.57% ± 0.033%), as well as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) (75.92% ± 0.071%). By using Sca-1 antibody in conjunction with magnetic activated cell sorting (MACS), followed with a flow cytometric cell sorting (FACS) method for CD34 and CD45, we have developed a rapid oval cell isolation protocol with high yields of greater than 90%. In conclusion, we have an efficient murine model for the production and isolation of large numbers of highly purified oval cells. Our system works with most strains of mouse, which will facilitate both in vivo and in vitro studies of mouse hepatic oval cells.