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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 575471, 15 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/575471
Research Article

Amniotic Mesenchymal Stem Cells: A New Source for Hepatocyte-Like Cells and Induction of CFTR Expression by Coculture with Cystic Fibrosis Airway Epithelial Cells

1Medical Genetics Laboratory, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Via Commenda 12, 20122 Milan, Italy
2Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Foggia, c/o Ospedali Riuniti, Viale L. Pinto 1, 71122 Foggia, Italy
3Interdepartmental Center of Cytometry and Experimental Hepatology Laboratory, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Via F. Sforza 35, 20122 Milan, Italy
4Cystic Fibrosis Center, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Via Commenda 9, 20122 Milan, Italy

Received 15 June 2011; Revised 13 October 2011; Accepted 14 October 2011

Academic Editor: Ken-ichi Isobe

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Paracchini et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a monogenic disease caused by mutations in the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene, with lung and liver manifestations. Because of pitfalls of gene therapy, novel approaches for reconstitution of the airway epithelium and CFTR expression should be explored. In the present study, human amniotic mesenchymal stem cells (hAMSCs) were isolated from term placentas and characterized for expression of phenotypic and pluripotency markers, and for differentiation potential towards mesoderm (osteogenic and adipogenic) lineages. Moreover, hAMSCs were induced to differentiate into hepatocyte-like cells, as demonstrated by mixed function oxidase activity and expression of albumin, alpha1-antitrypsin, and CK19. We also investigated the CFTR expression in hAMSCs upon isolation and in coculture with CF airway epithelial cells. Freshly isolated hAMSCs displayed low levels of CFTR mRNA, which even decreased with culture passages. Following staining with the vital dye CM-DiI, hAMSCs were mixed with CFBE41o- respiratory epithelial cells and seeded onto permeable filters. Flow cytometry demonstrated that 33–50% of hAMSCs acquired a detectable CFTR expression on the apical membrane, a result confirmed by confocal microscopy. Our data show that amniotic MSCs have the potential to differentiate into epithelial cells of organs relevant in CF pathogenesis and may contribute to partial correction of the CF phenotype.