PLoS One 2012 14;7(6):e38631. Epub 2012 Jun 14.
Center for Reproduction and Development, Monash Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.
Chronic hepatic inflammation from multiple etiologies leads to a fibrogenic response that can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure. Transplantation of human amniotic epithelial cells (hAEC) from term delivered placenta has been shown to decrease mild to moderate hepatic fibrosis in a murine model. To model advanced human liver disease and assess the efficacy of hAEC therapy, we transplanted hAEC in mice with advanced hepatic fibrosis. Immunocompetent C57BL/6 mice were administered carbon tetrachloride (CCl(4)) twice weekly resulting in bridging fibrosis by 12 weeks. hAEC (2 × 10(6)) were infused via the tail vein at week 8 or weeks 8 and 10 (single and double dose, respectively). Human cells were detected in mouse liver four weeks after transplantation showing hAEC engraftment. CCl(4) treated mice receiving single or double hAEC doses showed a significant but similar decrease in liver fibrosis area associated with decreased activation of collagen-producing hepatic stellate cells and decreased hepatic protein levels of the pro-fibrogenic cytokine, transforming growth factor-beta1. CCl(4) administration caused hepatic T cell infiltration that decreased significantly following hAEC transplantation. Hepatic macrophages play a crucial role in both fibrogenesis and fibrosis resolution. Mice exposed to CCl(4) demonstrated increased numbers of hepatic macrophages compared to normal mice; the number of macrophages decreased significantly in CCl(4) treated mice given hAEC. These mice had significantly lower hepatic protein levels of the chemokine monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 than mice given CCl(4) alone. Alternatively activated M2 macrophages are associated with fibrosis resolution. CCl(4) treated mice given hAEC showed increased expression of genes associated with M2 macrophages including YM-1, IL-10 and CD206. We provide novel data showing that hAEC transplantation induces a wound healing M2 macrophage phenotype associated with reduction of established hepatic fibrosis that justifies further investigation of this potential cell-based therapy for advanced hepatic fibrosis.