Background: There is significant interest in using nanofibers in tissue engineering from stem cells. The transdifferentiation of mesenchymal stem cells into the hepatic lineage in a nanofibrous structure has not been reported. In this study, a three dimensional nanofibrous scaffold is introduced for differentiation of human bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (hBMSCs) into hepatocytes.
Methods: A scaffold composed of Poly (epsilon-caprolactone), collagen and polyethersulfone was fabricated by the electrospinning technique. After characterization of isolated hBMSCs, the performance of the cells on the scaffold was evaluated by Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and MTT assay. Cytological, molecular and biochemical markers were measured to confirm differentiation potential of hBMSCs into hepatocytes.
Results: The isolated cells possessed the basic properties of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Based on scanning electron microscope (SEM) analysis and MTT assay, it was shown that the cells adhere, penetrate and proliferate on the nanofibers. Cultured cells on the nanofibers differentiated into hepatocyte-like cells and expressed hepatocyte specific markers such as albumin, alpha-fetoprotein, cytokeratin-18, cytokeratin-19 and cytochrome P450 3A4 at mRNA levels. Appearance of a considerable number of albumin-positive cells cultivated on the scaffold (47 +/- 4%) as compared to the two-dimensional culture system (28 +/- 6%) indicates the supporting role of the scaffold. The efficiency of the cells to produce albumin, urea, transferrin, serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase and serum oxaloacetate aminotransferase in hepatocytes on the scaffold further attest to the functionality of the cells.
Conclusion: The data presented in this study show that the engineered nanofibrous scaffold is a conductive matrix which supports and enhances MSC development into functional hepatocyte-like cells.