Development of immortalized human hepatocyte-like hybrid cells by fusion of multi-lineage progenitor cells with primary hepatocytes

Daniel P. Collins, Joel H. Hapke, Rajagopal N. Aravalli, Clifford J. Steer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Human primary hepatocytes (PHs) are critical to studying liver functions, drug metabolism and toxicity. PHs isolated from livers that are unacceptable for transplantation have limited expansion and culture viability in vitro, in addition to rapidly deteriorating enzymatic functions. The unsuitability of immortalized hepato-carcinoma cell lines for this function has prompted studies to develop hepatocyte-like cells from alternative sources like ESC, iPS, and other stem cell types using differentiation protocols. This study describes a novel technique to produce expandable and functional hepatocyte-like cells from the fusion of an immortalized human umbilical cord blood derived cell line (E12 MLPC) to normal human primary hepatocytes. Multi-lineage progenitor cells (MLPC) comprise a small subset of mesenchymal-like cells isolated from human umbilical cord blood. MLPC are distinguishable from other mesenchymal-like cells by their extended expansion capacity (up to 80 cell doublings before senescence) and the ability to be differentiated into cells representative of endo-, meso- and ectodermal origins. Transfection of MLPC with the gene for telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) resulted in clonal cell lines that were capable of differentiation to different cellular outcomes while maintaining their functional immortality. A methodology for the development of immortalized hepatocyte-like hybrid cells by the in vitro fusion of human MLPC with normal human primary hepatocytes is reported. The resultant hybrid cells exhibited homology with hepatocytes by morphology, immunohistochemistry, urea and albumin production and gene expression. A medium that allows stable long-term expansion of hepatocyte-like fusion cells is described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0234002
JournalPloS one
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Collins et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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