Extracorporeal application of a gel-entrapment, bioartificial liver: Demonstration of drug metabolism and other biochemical functions

Scott L. Nyberg, Ken Shirabe, Madhusudan V. Peshwa, Timothy D. Sielaff, Paul L. Crotty, Henry J. Mann, Rory P Remmel, William D Payne, Wei-Shou Hu, Frank B. Cerra

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81 Scopus citations


Metabolic activity of a gel-entrapment, hollow fiber, bioartificial liver was evaluated in vitro and during extracorporeal hemoperfusion in an anhepatic rabbit model. The bioartificial liver contained either 100 million rat hepatocytes (n = 12), fibroblasts (n = 3), or no cells (n = 7) during hemoperfusion of anhepatic rabbits. Eight other anhepatic rabbits were studied without hemoperfusion as anhepatic controls, and three sham rabbits served as normal controls. Albumin production rates (mean ± SEM) were similar during in vitro (17.0 ± 2.8 μg/h) and extracorporeal (18.0 ± 4.0 μg/h) application of the hepatocyte bioartificial liver. Exogenous glucose requirements were reduced (p < 0.01) and euglycemia was prolonged (p < 0.001) in anhepatic rabbits treated with the hepatocyte bioartificial liver. The maximum rate of glucose production by the hepatocyte bioartificial liver ranged from 50-80 μg/h. Plasma concentrations of aromatic amino acids, proline, alanine, and ammonia were normalized in anhepatic rabbits during hepatocyte hemoperfusion. Gel-entrapped hepatocytes in the bioartificial liver performed sulfation and glucuronidation of 4-methylumbelliferone. P450 activity was demonstrated during both in vitro and extracorporeal application of the BAL device by the formation of 3-hydroxy-lidocaine, the major metabolite of lidocaine biotransformation by gel-entrapped rat hepatocytes. In summary, a gel-entrapment, bioartificial liver performed multiple hepatocyte-specific functions without adverse side effects during extracorporeal application in an anhepatic, small animal model. With its potential for short term support of acute liver failure, scale-up of the current bioartificial liver device is indicated for further investigations in large animal, preclinical trials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-452
Number of pages12
JournalCell transplantation
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1993


  • Artificial organ
  • Bioartificial liver
  • Drug metabolism
  • Hepatocyte


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