A Scalable Approach for the Generation of Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Hepatic Organoids with Sensitive Hepatotoxicity Features

Stem Cells Dev. 2017 Oct 15;26(20):1490-1504. doi: 10.1089/scd.2017.0023. Epub 2017 Aug 24.


The quest for physiologically active human hepatocyte-like cells for in vitro research and drug screening is high. The recent progress in the field of pluripotent stem cell (PSC)-derived hepatic cells within the last decade brings those cells closer to applications in translational medicine. However, the classical two-dimensional (2D) cell culture systems are of limited use, because relevant cell-cell interactions based on cell polarity, which is a major prerequisite for proper hepatic cell metabolisms, are not provided. In this study, we report a scalable 3D suspension culture system, in which PSC-derived hepatic cells can be maintained for up to 3 weeks with stable gene expression profiles and metabolic features in a suspension culture system ranging from a 1.5 mL up to a 15 mL. Adjustments of culture conditions and, most importantly, the size of the organoids resulted in the robust generation of hepatic organoids consisting of a quite homogenous cell population. Importantly, the generation of these hepatic organoids was highly reproducible and allowed, in contrast to hepatic PSC derivatives in 2D culture conditions, a sensitive assessment of acetaminophen-related toxicity, the most common source for drug-induced liver failure.

Keywords: hepatic PSC derivatives; organoid culture; scalable culture; toxicity assays.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Organoids / pathology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*