Many potential applications of stem cells require large quantities of cells, especially those involving large organs such as the liver. For such applications, a scalable reactor system is desirable to ensure a reliable supply of sufficient quantities of differentiation competent or differentiated cells. We employed a microcarrier culture system for the expansion of undifferentiated rat multipotent adult progenitor cells (rMAPC) as well as for directed differentiation of these cells to hepatocyte-like cells. During the 4-day expansion culture, cell concentration increased by 85-fold while expression level of pluripotency markers were maintained, as well as the MAPC differentiation potential. Directed differentiation into hepatocyte-like cells on the microcarriers themselves gave comparable results as observed with cells cultured in static cultures. The cells expressed several mature hepatocyte-lineage genes and asialoglycoprotein receptor-1 (ASGPR-1) surface protein, and secreted albumin and urea. Microcarrier culture thus offers the potential of large-scale expansion and differentiation of stem cells in a more controlled bioreactor environment.
- Hepatic differentiation