Background & Aims: Liver transplantation is the primary treatment for various end-stage hepatic diseases but is hindered by the lack of donor organs and by complications associated with rejection and immunosuppression. There is increasing evidence to suggest the bone marrow is a transplantable source of hepatic progenitors. We previously reported that multipotent bone marrow–derived mesenchymal stem cells differentiate into functional hepatocyte-like cells with almost 100% induction frequency under defined conditions, suggesting the potential for clinical applications. The aim of this study was to critically analyze the various parameters governing the success of bone marrow–derived mesenchymal stem cell–based therapy for treatment of liver diseases.
Methods: Lethal fulminant hepatic failure in nonobese diabetic severe combined immunodeficient mice was induced by carbon tetrachloride gavage. Mesenchymal stem cell–derived hepatocytes and mesenchymal stem cells were then intrasplenically or intravenously transplanted at different doses.
Results: Both mesenchymal stem cell–derived hepatocytes and mesenchymal stem cells, transplanted by either intrasplenic or intravenous route, engrafted recipient liver, differentiated into functional hepatocytes, and rescued liver failure. Intravenous transplantation was more effective in rescuing liver failure than intrasplenic transplantation. Moreover, mesenchymal stem cells were more resistant to reactive oxygen species in vitro, reduced oxidative stress in recipient mice, and accelerated repopulation of hepatocytes after liver damage, suggesting a possible role for paracrine effects.
Conclusions: Bone marrow–derived mesenchymal stem cells can effectively rescue experimental liver failure and contribute to liver regeneration and offer a potentially alternative therapy to organ transplantation for treatment of liver diseases.