Comparison of proliferation and differentiation potential between mouse primary hepatocytes and embryonic hepatic progenitor cells in vitro

Int J Mol Med. 2013 Aug;32(2):476-84. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2013.1413. Epub 2013 Jun 11.


Cell therapy may be a novel and effective treatment strategy for liver diseases, replacing liver transplantation. The potential of two alternative cell types (hepatic progenitor/stem cells and mature hepatocytes) has not yet been fully assessed; the issues of low amplification efficiency and recovery function remain to be resolved. In this study, we investigated the proliferation, differentiation and function of primary mouse mature hepatocytes and embryonic hepatic progenitor cells. Primary cells were obtained from the livers of mouse embryos at 14.5 days post coitus [hepatic progenitor 14.5d (HP14.5d) cells], as well as from the livers of 3-month-old mice [liver cells 3m (LC3m)]. Using trypan blue staining and crystal violet staining to detect cell viability, we found that compared with the limited growth capability of primary LC3m cells, primary HP14.5d cells exhibited an active cell proliferation; however, proliferative ability of passaged HP14.5d cells significantly decreased. After the HP14.5d cells were treated in hepatic induction medium, the expression of progenitor cell markers decreased and that of mature hepatic markers increased, to levels similar to those of LC3m cells. On day 12 of induction, the HP14.5d cells showed comparable indocyanine green (ICG) uptake and glycogen storage to that of the LC3m cells. Therefore, our study demonstrates that primary hepatic progenitor cells have a stronger proliferation capacity and differentiation potential, supporting their clinical application in liver cell transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Hepatocytes / cytology*
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*