High-Throughput Platform for Identifying Molecular Factors Involved in Phenotypic Stabilization of Primary Human Hepatocytes In Vitro.

Shan J1, Logan DJ2, Root DE3, Carpenter AE3, Bhatia SN4
Source: J Biomol Screen
Publication Date: (2016)
Issue: 21(9): 410-419
Cells used in publication:
Hepatocyte, human
Species: human
Tissue Origin: liver
Liver disease is a leading cause of morbidity worldwide and treatment options are limited, with organ transplantation being the only form of definitive management. Cell-based therapies have long held promise as alternatives to whole-organ transplantation but have been hindered by the rapid loss of liver-specific functions over a period of days in cultured hepatocytes. Hypothesis-driven studies have identified a handful of factors that modulate hepatocyte functions in vitro, but our understanding of the mechanisms involved remains incomplete. We thus report here the development of a high-throughput platform to enable systematic interrogation of liver biology in vitro. The platform is currently configured to enable genetic knockdown screens and includes an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay-based functional assay to quantify albumin output as a surrogate marker for hepatocyte synthetic functions as well as an image-based viability assay that counts hepatocyte nuclei. Using this platform, we identified 12 gene products that may be important for hepatocyte viability and/or liver identity in vitro. These results represent important first steps in the elucidation of mechanisms instrumental to the phenotypic maintenance of hepatocytes in vitro, and we hope that the tools reported here will empower additional studies in various fields of liver research.