Hepatocyte transplantation is expected to become a novel method for treatment of liver disease. However, many questions remain regarding this approach, especially concerning donor cells. To evaluate whether human amniotic epithelial cells can be used as a cell source for hepatocyte transplantation, hepatic gene expression and functions of human amniotic epithelial cells were analyzed. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analysis demonstrated that human amniotic epithelial cells expressed albumin, α1-antitrypsin, and other hepatocyte-related genes. Cultivated human amniotic epithelial cells demonstrated albumin production, glycogen storage, and albumin secretion consistent with the hepatocyte gene expression profile. In organ culture, the amnion secreted 30-fold larger amounts of albumin than human amniotic epithelial cells in monolayer culture. Moreover, in organ culture the amnion also secreted α1-antitrypsin. Following transplantation into mice, the amnion survived and secreted albumin. These observations suggest that transplantation of human amniotic epithelial cells and/or amnion could be novel therapeutic strategy for treatment of hepatic diseases, including α1-antitrypsin deficiency.
2004 by Japan Society for Cell Biology