Experimental hepatocyte xenotransplantation–a comprehensive review of the literature

Zhou H, Liu H, Ezzelarab M, Schmelzer E, Wang Y, Gerlach J, Gridelli B, Cooper DK. Xenotransplantation. 2015 Jul-Aug;22(4):239-48. doi: 10.1111/xen.12170. Review. PMID: 25950141

Hepatocyte transplantation (Tx) is a potential therapy for certain diseases of the liver, including hepatic failure. However, there is a limited supply of human livers as a source of cells and, after isolation, human hepatocytes can be difficult to expand in culture, limiting the number available for Tx. Hepatocytes from other species, for example, the pig, have therefore emerged as a potential alternative source. We searched the literature through the end of 2014 to assess the current status of experimental research into hepatocyte xenoTx. The literature search identified 51 reports of in vivo cross-species Tx of hepatocytes in a variety of experimental models. Most studies investigated the Tx of human (n = 23) or pig (n = 19) hepatocytes. No studies explored hepatocytes from genetically engineered pigs. The spleen was the most common site of Tx (n = 23), followed by the liver (through the portal vein [n = 6]) and peritoneal cavity (n = 19). In 47 studies (92%), there was evidence of hepatocyte engraftment and function across a species barrier. The data provided by this literature search strengthen the hypothesis that xenoTx of hepatocytes is feasible and potentially successful as a clinical therapy for certain liver diseases, including hepatic failure. By excluding vascular structures, hepatocytes isolated from genetically engineered pig livers may address some of the immunological problems of xenoTx.