Sci Rep 2020 01 21;10(1):887. Epub 2020 Jan 21.
Molecular Biotechnology Center, Department of Molecular Biotechnology and Health Sciences, University of Turin, Turin, Italy.
Crigler Najjar Syndrome type I (CNSI) is a rare recessive disorder caused by mutations in the Ugt1a1 gene. There is no permanent cure except for liver transplantation, and current therapies present several shortcomings. Since stem cell-based therapy offers a promising alternative for the treatment of this disorder, we evaluated the therapeutic potential of human liver stem cells (HLSC) in immune-compromised NOD SCID Gamma (NSG)/Ugt1 mice, which closely mimic the pathological manifestations in CNSI patients. To assess whether HLSC expressed UGT1A1, decellularised mouse liver scaffolds were repopulated with these cells. After 15 days' culture ex vivo, HLSC differentiated into hepatocyte-like cells showing UGT1A1 expression and activity. For the in vivo human cell engraftment and recovery experiments, DiI-labelled HLSC were injected into the liver of 5 days old NSG/Ugt1 pups which were analysed at postnatal Day 21. HLSC expressed UGT1A1 in vivo, induced a strong decrease in serum unconjugated bilirubin, thus significantly improving phenotype and survival compared to untreated controls. A striking recovery from brain damage was also observed in HLSC-injected mutant mice versus controls. Our proof-of-concept study shows that HLSC express UGT1A1 in vivo and improve the phenotype and survival of NSG/Ugt1 mice, and show promises for the treatment of CNSI.