Effects of Co-Culture Media on Hepatic Differentiation of hiPSC with or without HUVEC Co-Culture

Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Aug 7;18(8):1724. doi: 10.3390/ijms18081724.


The derivation of hepatocytes from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) is of great interest for applications in pharmacological research. However, full maturation of hiPSC-derived hepatocytes has not yet been achieved in vitro. To improve hepatic differentiation, co-cultivation of hiPSC with human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC) during hepatic differentiation was investigated in this study. In the first step, different culture media variations based on hepatocyte culture medium (HCM) were tested in HUVEC mono-cultures to establish a suitable culture medium for co-culture experiments. Based on the results, two media variants were selected to differentiate hiPSC-derived definitive endodermal (DE) cells into mature hepatocytes with or without HUVEC addition. DE cells differentiated in mono-cultures in the presence of those media variants showed a significant increase (p < 0.05) in secretion of α-fetoprotein and in activities of cytochrome P450 (CYP) isoenzymes CYP2B6 and CYP3A4 as compared with cells differentiated in unmodified HCM used as control. Co-cultivation with HUVEC did not further improve the differentiation outcome. Thus, it can be concluded that the effect of the used medium outweighed the effect of HUVEC co-culture, emphasizing the importance of the culture medium composition for hiPSC differentiation.

Keywords: co-culture; hepatic differentiation; human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC); human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC).

MeSH terms

  • Albumins / metabolism
  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Differentiation* / drug effects
  • Cell Differentiation* / genetics
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Culture Media
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / pharmacology*
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Hepatocytes / cytology*
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Urea / metabolism
  • alpha-Fetoproteins / metabolism


  • Albumins
  • Biomarkers
  • Culture Media
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • alpha-Fetoproteins
  • Urea
  • Cytochrome P-450 Enzyme System