Objective: Stem cell transplantation provides a promising alternative for the treatment of fulminant hepatic failure (FHF). However, it lacks fundamental understanding of stem cells' activities. Our objective was to clarify stem cell-recipient interactions for overcoming barriers to clinical application.
Design: We used an in-house large-animal (pig) model of FHF rescue by human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (hBMSCs) and profiled the cells' activities. The control and transplantation groups of pigs (n=15 per group) both received a D-galactosamine (D-Gal) injection (1.5 g/kg). The transplantation group received hBMSCs via intraportal vein infusion (3×106 cells/kg) immediately after D-Gal administration. The stem cell-recipient interactions were quantitatively evaluated by biochemical function, cytokine array, metabolite profiling, transcriptome sequencing and immunohistochemistry.
Results: All pigs in the control group died within an average of 3.22 days, whereas 13/15 pigs in the transplantation group lived >14 days. The cytokine array and metabolite profiling analyses revealed that hBMSC transplantation suppressed D-Gal-induced life-threatening cytokine storms and stabilised FHF within 7 days, while human-derived hepatocytes constituted only ∼4.5% of the pig hepatocytes. The functional synergy analysis of the observed profile changes indicated that the implanted hBMSCs altered the pigs' cytokine responses to damage through paracrine effects. Delta-like ligand 4 was validated to assist liver restoration in both pig and rat FHF models.
Conclusions: Our results delineated an integrated model of the multifaceted interactions between stem cells and recipients, which may open a new avenue to the discovery of single molecule-based therapeutics that simulate stem cell actions.
Keywords: CYTOKINES; FULMINANT HEPATIC FAILURE; STEM CELLS.
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