[Sodium butyrate induces rat hepatic oval cells differentiating into mature hepatocytes in vitro]

Ping Wang, Ji-Dong Jia, Shu-Zhen Tang, Zhong-Yu Yan, Hong You, Min Cong, Bao-En Wang, Li Chen, Wei An
Zhonghua Gan Zang Bing za Zhi, Zhonghua Ganzangbing Zazhi, Chinese Journal of Hepatology 2004, 12 (12): 718-21

OBJECTIVE: To elucidate the effects of sodium butyrate on rat hepatic oval cell differentiation in vitro.

METHODS: Hepatic oval cells were isolated from rats fed with a choline-deficient diet supplemented with 0.1% (w/w) ethonine for 4 to 6 weeks. The cultured hepatic oval cells were identified by immunohistochemistry and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). After hepatic oval cells were treated with sodium butyrate, the morphological changes were studied through Giemsa staining and the albumin expression level was tested by Western blot.

RESULTS: Immunohistochemical results showed the isolated cells were positive for both mature hepatocyte marker albumin and bile duct cell marker cytokeratin-19. Furthermore, RT-PCR results showed that the cells expressed stem cell marker c-kit, but not hematopoietic stem cell marker CD34. In short, the isolated cells were rat hepatic oval cells. 0.75 mmol/L sodium butyrate induced obvious phenotype changes of hepatic oval cells, including enlargement of the oval cells, a decrease in nucleus to cytoplasm ratio, and a 50% increase in the number of binucleated cells. Western blot results showed that 0.75 mmol/L sodium butyrate markedly raised the expression of albumin.

CONCLUSION: Sodium butyrate, a differentiation promoting agent, can induce rat hepatic oval cells (liver progenitor cells) to differentiate into mature hepatocytes in vitro.

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