Background & Aims: Kupffer cells are activated shortly after deposition of hepatocytes in liver sinusoids, with clearance of a significant fraction of transplanted cells, especially when cells are entrapped in portal spaces. We determined whether perturbation of Kupffer cells would improve transplanted cell engraftment. Methods: Dipeptidyl peptidase IV-deficient rats were used as recipients of syngeneic Fischer 344 rat hepatocytes. Kupffer cell function was analyzed by measuring phagocytic activity with carbon particle or 99mTc-sulfur colloid incorporation. Transplanted cell survival and integration in the liver parenchyma was determined by histochemical analysis of tissues. Transplanted cell proliferation was analyzed in rats conditioned with retrorsine and partial hepatectomy. Results: Gadolinium chloride significantly impaired Kupffer cell function, especially in periportal areas, where transplanted cells were localized. Transplanted cell survival increased by approximately 2-fold in animals treated with gadolinium chloride 24 hours before cell transplantation. In gadolinium-treated rats, more transplanted cells were observed in portal vein radicles, as well as in liver sinusoids, albeit integration of cells in the liver parenchyma was slower in gadolinium-treated rats and cells separated from other hepatocytes in portal vein radicles that failed to exhibit bile canalicular reconstitution. Finally, hepatocyte transplantation in rats primed with retrorsine and partial hepatectomy showed accelerated kinetics of liver repopulation in animals pretreated with gadolinium chloride. Conclusions: Perturbation of Kupffer cell activity will benefit liver repopulation with cells and further analysis of clinically suitable approaches to exploit this mechanism will be appropriate.
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