Liver fibrosis, a form of scarring, develops in chronic liver diseases when hepatocyte regeneration cannot compensate for hepatocyte death. Initially, collagen produced by myofibroblasts (MFs) functions to maintain the integrity of the liver, but excessive collagen accumulation suppresses residual hepatocyte function, leading to liver failure. As a strategy to generate new hepatocytes and limit collagen deposition in the chronically injured liver, we developed in vivo reprogramming of MFs into hepatocytes using adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors expressing hepatic transcription factors. We first identified the AAV6 capsid as effective in transducing MFs in a mouse model of liver fibrosis. We then showed in lineage-tracing mice that AAV6 vector-mediated in vivo hepatic reprogramming of MFs generates hepatocytes that replicate function and proliferation of primary hepatocytes, and reduces liver fibrosis. Because AAV vectors are already used for liver-directed human gene therapy, our strategy has potential for clinical translation into a therapy for liver fibrosis.
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