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International Journal of Hepatology
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 5452487, 13 pages
Research Article

Therapeutic Potential of HGF-Expressing Human Umbilical Cord Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Mice with Acute Liver Failure

1Shenzhen Beike Cell Engineering Research Institute, Yuanxing Science and Technology Building, Nanshan, Shenzhen 518057, China
2Stem Cell and Cancer Center, First Hospital, Jilin University, Changchun 130012, China
3Stanford University Medical School, Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research, Palo Alto, CA 94304, USA

Received 21 September 2015; Revised 31 December 2015; Accepted 4 February 2016

Academic Editor: Shigeru Marubashi

Copyright © 2016 Yunxia Tang 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 (UCMSCs) are particularly attractive cells for cellular and gene therapy in acute liver failure (ALF). However, the efficacy of this cell therapy in animal studies needs to be significantly improved before it can be translated into clinics. In this study, we investigated the therapeutic potential of UCMSCs that overexpress hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) in an acetaminophen-induced acute liver failure mouse model. We found that the HGF-UCMSC cell therapy protected animals from acute liver failure by reducing liver damage and prolonging animal survival. The therapeutic effect of HGF-UCMSCs was associated with the increment in serum glutathione (GSH) and hepatic enzymes that maintain redox homeostasis, including γ-glutamylcysteine synthetase (γ-GCS), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and catalase (CAT). Immunohistochemical staining confirmed that HGF-UCMSCs were mobilized to the injured areas of the liver. Additionally, HGF-UCMSCs modulated apoptosis by upregulating the antiapoptotic Bcl2 and downregulating proapoptotic genes, including Bax and TNFα. Taken together, these data suggest that ectopic expression of HGF in UCMSCs protects animals from acetaminophen-induced acute liver failure through antiapoptosis and antioxidation mechanisms.