Serum-Free Directed Differentiation of Human Embryonic Stem Cells to Hepatocytes

Methods Mol Biol. 2015;1250:105-11. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-2074-7_7.


The increase in human liver disease worldwide is a major concern. At present, the only successful mode of treatment for failing liver function is organ transplantation. While highly successful, donor organs are a limited resource that cannot meet current demands. Therefore, alternative liver support strategies have been explored, including the use of the major and metabolic cell within the liver, the hepatocyte. While current approaches using human hepatocytes are very promising, donor material is still required and therefore suffers from similar limitations to whole organ transplantation. One alternative source of human hepatocytes being actively pursued in the field is pluripotent stem cells. Pluripotent stem cells are a scalable and renewable cell-based resource, which can be efficiently differentiated towards hepatocytes, including pluripotent stem cell lines that have been derived under good manufacturing practice conditions. Therefore, it is believed that this approach provides a promising model system for cell scale-up and differentiation. In the future, pluripotent stem cell-derived hepatocytes could be used in the clinic to support failing liver function if they should be deemed fit for purpose.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Culture Techniques*
  • Cell Differentiation* / drug effects
  • Culture Media, Serum-Free*
  • Hepatocytes / cytology*
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Human Embryonic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Human Embryonic Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / pharmacology


  • Culture Media, Serum-Free
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins