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AR42J-B-13 cell: An expandable progenitor to generate an unlimited supply of functional hepatocytes
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Dr Karen Wallace
Professor Matthew Wright
Wallace K, Fairhall EA, Charlton KA, Wright MC
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Hepatocytes are the preparation of choice for Toxicological research in vitro. However, despite the fact that hepatocytes proliferate in vivo during liver regeneration, they are resistant to proliferation in vitro, do not tolerate sub-culture and tend to enter a de-differentiation program that results in a loss of hepatic function. These limitations have resulted in the search for expandable rodent and human cells capable of being directed to differentiate into functional hepatocytes. Research with stem cells suggests that it may be possible to provide the research community with hepatocytes in vitro although to date, significant challenges remain, notably generating a sufficiently pure population of hepatocytes with a quantitative functionality comparable with hepatocytes. This paper reviews work with the AR42J-B-13 (B-13) cell line. The B-13 cell was cloned from the rodent AR42J pancreatic cell line, express genes associated with pancreatic acinar cells and readily proliferates in simple culture media. When exposed to glucocorticoid, 75–85% of the cells trans-differentiate into hepatocyte-like (B-13/H) cells functioning at a level quantitatively similar to freshly isolated rat hepatocytes (with the remaining cells retaining the B-13 phenotype). Trans-differentiation of pancreatic acinar cells also appears to occur in vivo in rats treated with glucocorticoid; in mice with elevated circulating glucocorticoid and in humans treated for long periods with glucocorticoid. The B-13 response to glucocorticoid therefore appears to be related to a real pathophysiological response of a pancreatic cell to glucocorticoid. An understanding of how this process occurs and if it can be generated or engineered in human cells would result in a cell line with the ability to generate an unlimited supply of functional human hepatocytes in a cost effective manner.
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