Published online Jan 14, 2018. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v24.i2.237
Peer-review started: October 1, 2017
First decision: October 25, 2017
Revised: November 6, 2017
Accepted: November 22, 2017
Article in press: November 22, 2017
Published online: January 14, 2018
To explore the effectiveness for treating liver fibrosis by combined transplantation of bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells (BM-EPCs) and bone marrow-derived hepatocyte stem cells (BDHSCs) from the liver fibrosis environment.
The liver fibrosis rat models were induced with carbon tetrachloride injections for 6 wk. BM-EPCs from rats with liver fibrosis were obtained by different rates of adherence and culture induction. BDHSCs from rats with liver fibrosis were isolated by magnetic bead cell sorting. Tracing analysis was conducted by labeling EPCs with PKH26 in vitro to show EPC location in the liver. Finally, BM-EPCs and/or BDHSCs transplantation into rats with liver fibrosis were performed to evaluate the effectiveness of BM-EPCs and/or BDHSCs on liver fibrosis.
Normal functional BM-EPCs from liver fibrosis rats were successfully obtained. The co-expression level of CD133 and VEGFR2 was 63.9% ± 2.15%. Transplanted BM-EPCs were located primarily in/near hepatic sinusoids. The combined transplantation of BM-EPCs and BDHSCs promoted hepatic neovascularization, liver regeneration and liver function, and decreased collagen formation and liver fibrosis degree. The VEGF levels were increased in the BM-EPCs (707.10 ± 54.32) and BM-EPCs/BDHSCs group (615.42 ± 42.96), compared with those in the model group and BDHSCs group (P < 0.05). Combination of BM-EPCs/BDHSCs transplantation induced maximal up-regulation of PCNA protein and HGF mRNA levels. The levels of alanine aminotransferase (AST), aspartate aminotransferase, total bilirubin (TBIL), prothrombin time (PT) and activated partial thromboplastin time in the BM-EPCs/BDHSCs group were significantly improved, to be equivalent to normal levels (P > 0.05) compared with those in the BDHSC (AST, TBIL and PT, P < 0.05) and BM-EPCs (TBIL and PT, P < 0.05) groups. Transplantation of BM-EPCs/BDHSCs combination significantly reduced the degree of liver fibrosis (staging score of 1.75 ± 0.25 vs BDHSCs 2.88 ± 0.23 or BM-EPCs 2.75 ± 0.16, P < 0.05).
The combined transplantation exhibited maximal therapeutic effect compared to that of transplantation of BM-EPCs or BDHSCs alone. Combined transplantation of autogenous BM-EPCs and BDHSCs may represent a promising strategy for the treatment of liver fibrosis, which would eventually prevent cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Core tip: In addition to liver regeneration, hepatic neovascularization and endothelial/sinusoidal remodeling are critical factors for the treatment of liver fibrosis. Bone marrow-derived endothelial progenitor cells (BM-EPCs) have been shown to play a role in hepatic angiogenesis and to be beneficial in liver fibrosis. However, BM-EPCs are all derived from healthy individuals in recent studies. Here, we evaluated the feasibility of obtaining normal BM-EPCs from rats with liver fibrosis, and the effectiveness of combined transplantation of BM-EPCs and bone marrow-derived hepatocyte stem cells for treating liver fibrosis in order to achieve the dual effects of hepatic neovascularization and liver regeneration.