Development of a bioartificial liver employing xenogeneic hepatocytes

Wei Shou Hu, Julie R. Friend, Florence J. Wu, Timothy Sielaff, Madhusudan V. Peshwa, Arye Lazar, Scott L. Nyberg, Rory P. Remmel, Frank B. Cerra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Liver failure is a major cause of mortality. A bioartificial liver (BAL) employing isolated hepatocytes can potentially provide temporary support for liver failure patients. We have developed a bioartificial liver by entrapping hepatocytes in collagen loaded in the luminal side of a hollow fiber bioreactor. In the first phase of development, liver-specific metabolic activities of biosynthesis, biotransformation and conjugation were demonstrated. Subsequently anhepatic rabbits were used to show that rat hepatocytes continued to function after the BAL was linked to the test animal. For scale-up studies, a canine liver failure model was developed using D-galactosamine overdose. In order to secure a sufficient number of hepatocytes for large animal treatment, a collagenase perfusion protocol was established for harvesting porcine hepatocytes at high yield and viability. An instrumented bioreactor system, which included dissolved oxygen measurement, pH control, flow rate control, an oxygenator and two hollow fiber bioreactors in series, was used for these studies. An improved survival of dogs treated with the BAL was shown over the controls. In anticipated clinical applications, it is desirable to have the liver-specific activities in the BAL as high as possible. To that end, the possibility of employing hepatocyte spheroids was explored. These self-assembled spheroids formed from monolayer culture exhibited higher liver-specific functions and remained viable longer than hepatocytes in a monolayer. To ease the surface requirement for large-scale preparation of hepatocyte spheroids, we succeeded in inducing spheroid formation in stirred tank bioreactors for both rat and porcine hepatocytes. These spheroids formed in stirred tanks were shown to be morphologically and functionally indistinguishable from those formed from a monolayer. Collagen entrapment of these spheroids resulted in sustaining their liver-specific functions at higher levels even longer than those of spheroids maintained in suspension. For use in the BAL, a mixture of spheroids and dispersed hepatocytes was used to ensure a proper degree of collagen gel contraction. This mixture of spheroids and dispersed cells entrapped in the BAL was shown to sustain the high level of liver-specific functions. The possibility of employing such a BAL for improved clinical performance warrants further investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-38
Number of pages10
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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