A population of c-Kit(low)(CD45/TER119)- hepatic cell progenitors of 11-day postcoitus mouse embryo liver reconstitutes cell-depleted liver organoids

J Clin Invest. 2003 Oct;112(8):1152-63. doi: 10.1172/JCI17409.


Embryo liver morphogenesis takes place after gastrulation and starts with a ventral foregut evagination that reacts to factor signaling from both cardiac mesoderm and septum transversum mesenchyme. Current knowledge of the progenitor stem cell populations involved in this early embryo liver development is scarce. We describe here a population of 11-day postcoitus c-Kit(low)(CD45/TER119)- liver progenitors that selectively expressed hepatospecific genes and proteins in vivo, was self-maintained in vitro by long-term proliferation, and simultaneously differentiated into functional hepatocytes and bile duct cells. Purified c-Kit(low)(CD45/TER119)- liver cells cocultured with cell-depleted fetal liver fragments engrafted and repopulated the hepatic cell compartments of the latter organoids, suggesting that they may include the embryonic stem cells responsible for liver development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bile Ducts / cytology
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor / pharmacology
  • Hepatocytes / physiology*
  • Keratins / analysis
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens / physiology*
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / embryology*
  • Liver / ultrastructure
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Oncostatin M
  • Peptides / pharmacology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit / physiology*
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Stem Cells / physiology*


  • Osm protein, mouse
  • Peptides
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Oncostatin M
  • Hepatocyte Growth Factor
  • Keratins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-kit
  • Leukocyte Common Antigens