Scientists grow human liver tissue for transplantation

Human liver cells grown on resorbable scaffolds made from material similar to surgical sutures.

Updated: Jan 21, 2011, 11:42 AM IST

Washington: Scientists have attained success in growing human liver cells on resorbable scaffolds made from material similar to surgical sutures.

This liver tissue could be used in place of donor organs during liver transplantation or during the bridge period until a suitable donor is available for patients with acute liver failure, say researchers.

Joerg-Matthias Pollok, of the University Medical Center in Hamburg, Germany said, "Currently isolated liver cells are used for liver cell transplantation, but these cells suffer during cell isolation and cryopreservation, which is one reason there is limited success with this type of transplant procedure."

In applying their tissue engineering approach, the German researchers were able to successfully create new liver tissue providing a potential solution to the obstacles challenging liver cell transplantation.

The team isolated liver cells from 12 human liver specimens with a viability of 82 percent. After a two-day culture period, liver cells formed tightly packed cellular aggregates, called spheroids, and took on a liver-like appearance.

Human liver cells were distributed across a three-dimensional porous structure of the polymer scaffolding. From day two to four, the average number of spheroids more than doubled from 18 to 41 per visual field.

"Our experimental model represents a promising technique to culture human liver cells and prepare them for transplantation on a biodegradable polymer scaffold into the peritoneal cavity," concluded Pollok.

The findings appeared in the February issue of Liver Transplantation.