Allogeneic Liver Transplantation and Subsequent Syngeneic Hepatocyte Transplantation in a Rat Model: Proof of Concept for in vivo Tissue Engineering

Cells Tissues Organs. 2015;201(6):399-411. doi: 10.1159/000445792. Epub 2016 May 20.


Objectives: Stable long-term functioning of liver cells after transplantation in humans is still not achieved successfully. A new approach for successful engraftment of liver cells may be the transplantation of syngeneic cells into an allogeneic liver graft. We therefore developed a new rat model for combined liver and liver cell transplantation (cLCTx) under stable immunosuppression.

Materials and methods: After inducing a mitotic block, liver grafts from female donor rats (Dark Agouti) were transplanted into female recipients (Lewis). In male Lewis rats, liver cell proliferation was induced with subsequent cell isolation and transplantation into female recipients after organ transplantation. Y-chromosome detection of the transplanted male cells was performed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and fluorescence in situ hybridization (FisH) with localization of transplanted cells by immunohistochemistry.

Results: Immunohistochemistry demonstrated the engraftment of transplanted cells, as confirmed by FisH, showing repopulation of the liver graft with 15.6% male cells (± 1.8 SEM) at day 90. qPCR revealed 14.15% (± 5.09 SEM) male DNA at day 90.

Conclusion: Engraftment of transplanted syngeneic cells after cLCTx was achieved for up to 90 days under immunosuppression. Immunohistochemistry indicated cell proliferation, and the FisH results were partly confirmed by qPCR. This new protocol in rats appears feasible for addressing long-term functioning and eventually the induction of operational tolerance in the future.