• alginate;
  • encapsulation;
  • Fas;
  • hepatocyte;
  • Sertoli;
  • transplant


Hepatocyte transplantation offers therapeutic opportunities in liver disease. Xenogeneic hepatocytes are a potential resource, but rejection presents a major problem. We combined cell encapsulation with modulation by local generation of an immunosuppressant by co-encapsulating Sertoli cells with HepG2 cells. We assessed in vitro rat leukocyte proliferative responses and HepG2 cell survival after intraperitoneal injection in rats. Empty beads, and beads containing HepG2 cells or HepG2/Sertoli cells were injected intra-peritoneally into rats and survival of implanted cells followed over 4 weeks; in some animals acute hepatic failure (AHF) using thioacetamide (TAA) was also induced. The marked proliferative response of rat leukocytes to HepG2 cells and HepG2-containing beads was reduced by Sertoli cell-conditioned medium and HepG2/Sertoli encapsulates. After intra-peritoneal transplantation, Sertoli cells co-encapsulation protected the HepG2 cells in normal and AHF animals. Combined encapsulation and locally generated immuno-suppression may be a valuable strategy in hepatocyte transplantation.