Intrauterine xenotransplantation of human Wharton jelly-derived mesenchymal stem cells into the liver of rabbit fetuses: A preliminary study for in vivo expression of the human liver genes

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Biology, College of Science, Fars Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Fars, Iran

2 Department of Biology, College of Science, Shiraz Branch, Islamic Azad University, Shiraz, Iran

3 Stem Cells Technology Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

4 Department of Medical Genetics, School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

5 Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

6 6 Department of Clinical Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran


Objective(s): End-stage hepatic failure is a potentially life-threatening condition for which orthotopic liver transplantation is the only effective treatment. However, a shortage of available donor organs for transplantation each year results in the death of many patients waiting for liver transplantation. Xenotransplantation, or the transplantation of cells, tissues, or organs between different species, was proposed as a possible solution to the worldwide shortage of human organs and tissues for transplantation. The purpose of this preliminary study was to reconstruct human liver tissue by xenotransplantation of human Wharton jelly mesenchymal stem cells (hWJ-MSCs) into fetal rabbit.
Materials and Methods: Isolation and confirmation of hWJ-MSCs from human umbilical cord was performed. Eight rabbits at gestational day 14 were anesthetized. All rabbits carried pregnancies to term yielding 40 rabbit fetuses. Intrauterine injection of hWJ-MSCs was performed in 24 fetuses. Twenty-seven fetuses were born alive. Ten liver samples from injected fetuses were sampled, eight rabbits 3 days after birth and two rabbits 21 days after birth. The non-injected fetuses served as positive control. Fetuses of non-injected rabbits were negative controls. Using real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), mRNA expression of albumin (ALB), α-fetoprotein (AFP), hepatic nuclear factor 4 (HNF4), and CYP2B6 (CYP) were detected in liver samples.
Results: The human ALB, AFP, HNF4, and CYP mRNAs were expressed in the injected sampled fetuses by hWJ-MSCs into fetuses of rabbits in utero.
Conclusion: Developing xenotransplantation of hWJ-MSCs into rabbit uterus can introduce an applied approach for producing human liver tissue in rabbits.


Main Subjects

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