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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 8916534, 13 pages
Research Article

Effect of Microenvironment on Differentiation of Human Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cells into Hepatocytes In Vitro and In Vivo

1Graduate School, Hebei Medical University, Shijiazhuang, Hebei 050017, China
2Department of Pharmacy, Bethune International Peace Hospital, Shijiazhuang, Hebei 050082, China

Received 9 August 2015; Revised 21 December 2015; Accepted 29 December 2015

Academic Editor: Guangcun Huang

Copyright © 2016 Gai Xue 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.


Human umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hUCMSCs) are considered to be an ideal cell source for cell therapy of many diseases. The aim of this study was to investigate the contribution of the microenvironment to the hepatic differentiation potential of hUCMSCs in vitro and in vivo and to explore their therapeutic use in acute liver injury in rats. We established a new model to simulate the liver tissue microenvironment in vivo using liver homogenate supernatant (LHS) in vitro. This induced environment could drive hUCMSCs to differentiate into hepatocyte-like cells within 7 days. The differentiated cells expressed hepatocyte-specific markers and demonstrated hepatocellular functions. We also injected hUCMSCs into rats with CCl4-induced acute hepatic injury. The hUCMSCs were detected in the livers of recipient rats and expressed the human hepatocyte-specific markers, suggesting that hUCMSCs could differentiate into hepatocyte-like cells in vivo in the liver tissue microenvironment. Levels of biochemistry markers improved significantly after transplantation of hUCMSCs compared with the nontransplantation group (). In conclusion, this study demonstrated that the liver tissue microenvironment may contribute to the differentiation of hUCMSCs into hepatocytes both in vitro and in vivo.