Korean J Reprod Med.  2008 Dec;35(4):247-265.

Hepatogenic Potential of Umbilical Cord Derived-Stem Cells and Human Amnion Derived-Stem Cells

  • 1Department of Biotechnology, College of Natural Sciences, Seoul Women's University, Seoul, Korea. hwkim@swu.ac.kr
  • 2Suwonjeil Women's Hospital, Suwon, Korea.
  • 3Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.
  • 4Department of OB/GYN, College of Medicine, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea.


Many types of liver diseases can damage regenerative potential of mature hepatocytes, hepatic progenitor cells or oval cells. In such cases, a stem cell-based therapy can be an alternative therapeutic option. We examined whether human amnion-derived mesenchymal stem cells (HAM) and human umbilical cord-derived stem cells (HUC) could differentiate into hepatocyte-like cells as therapeutic cells for the liver diseases.
HAM and HUC were isolated from the amnion and umbilical cord of the volunteers after a caesarean section with informed consent. In order to differentiate these cells into hepatocyte-like cells, cells were cultivated in hepatogenic medium using culture plates coated with fibronectin. Effects of hepatocyte growth factor, L-ascorbic acid 2-phosphate, insulin premixture fibroblast growth gactor 4, dimethylsulfoxide, oncostatin M and/or dexamethasone were examined on the hepatic differentiation. After differentiation, the cells were analyzed by RT-PCR, immunocytochemistry, immunoblotting, albumin ELISA, urea assay and periodic acid-schiffs staining.
Initial fibroblast-like appearance of HAM and HUC changed to a round shape during culture in the hepatogenic medium. However, in all hepatogenic conditions examined, HUC secreted more amounts of albumin or urea into medium than HAM. Expression of some of hepatocyte-specific genes increased and expression of new genes were observed in HUC following cultivation in hepatogenic medium. Results of immunocytochemistry and immunoblotting analyses demonstrated that HUC secreted albumin into the culture medium. PAS staining further demonstrated that HUC could store glycogen inside of the cells.
Both HUC and HAM could differentiate into albumin-secreting, hepatocyte-like cells. Under the same hepatogenic conditions examined, HUC more efficiently differentiated into hepatocyte-like cells compared with the HAM. The results suggest that HUC and HAM could be used as sources of stem cells for the cell-based therapeutics such as in liver diseases.


Umbilical cord; Amnion; Stem cells; Hepatocyte; Differentiation
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