Wharton’s Jelly-derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells can Differentiate into Hepatocyte-like Cells by HepG2 Cell Line Extract

Document Type: Original Article(s)


1 Laboratory for Stem Cell Research, Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

2 Transplantation Research Center, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran


Background: Wharton’s jelly is an unlimited source of stem cells that can be used in cell therapy and tissue engineering without any ethical concern. It has been revealed the cell-free extract could be effective to induce cell differentiation. The objective of this study was to induce Wharton’s jelly-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) into hepatocyte-like cells by premeabilization of the cells in the presence of HepG2 cell line extract.Methods: MSCs were isolated from the umbilical cord, CD marker profile and their differentiation potential into adipogenic and osteogenic lineages were determined. The cells were then, permeabilized by streptolysin O in the presence of HepG cell extract. The treated cells were cultured for 17 days. The cell phenotype was evaluated and the hepatocyte specific markers were detected by immunofluorescence and immunocytochemistry. The Periodic Acid Schiff (PAS) reaction and the cellular uptake of indocyanine green were performed to evaluate the functional behavior of the differentiated cells.Results: The phenotype of extract-treated MSCs changed into a round or polygonal cells with few short processes and they could express high level of albumin, cytokeratin 18 and 19. The MSCs also could store glycogen and uptake and release indocyanine green.Conclusion: We demonstrated for the first time that Wharton’s jelly-derived MSCs could differentiate into hepatocyte-like cells by premeabilization of them in the presence of HepG2 cell extract. This study suggests a feasible method to differentiate MSCs into functional hepatocyte-like cells.