Formation of porcine hepatocyte spheroids for use in a bioartificial liver

Arye Lazar, Madhusudan V. Peshwa, Florence J. Wu, Chung Ming Chi, Frank B. Cerra, Wei Shou Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


Xenogeneic hepatocytes have recently been used in a bioartificial liver device as a potential short-term extracorporeal support of acute liver failure. Scaling up the system requires large quantities of viable and highly active cells. Hepatocytes grown as spheroids manifest higher metabolic activities for longer time periods as compared to those in monolayer cultures. Use of hepatocyte spheroids for application in a bioartificial liver can possibly alleviate the need of scaling up. Porcine hepatocytes when cultured under stirred conditions, form multicellular spheroids in a defined culture medium. Spheroids were formed 24 h after cell inoculation with an efficiency of 80-90°7o and a mean diameter of about 135 μm. Scanning electron microscopy revealed numerous microvilli projecting from the entire surface of the spheroids. Transmission electron microscopy revealed differentiated hepatocytes which displayed well-developed cytoplasmic structures separated by bile canaliculus-like structures. The morphological studies show a resemblance between cells in the spheroids and in the liver in vivo. Ureagenesis by spheroids was twice as active and was sustained for a longer culture period than that by hepatocytes cultured as monolayers. Preparation of porcine hepatocyte spheroids in an agitated vessel is simple efficient and reproducible. It will allow for preparation of large quantities of spheroids to be employed in a bioartificial liver device as well as in liver metabolism studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-268
Number of pages10
JournalCell transplantation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1995


  • Bioartificial liver
  • Image analysis
  • Porcine hepatocytes
  • Spheroids
  • Ureagenesis

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