Functional maturation of induced pluripotent stem cell hepatocytes in extracellular matrix—a comparative analysis of bioartificial liver microenvironments

Bo Wang, Adam E. Jakus, Pedro M. Baptista, Shay Soker, Alejandro Soto-Gutierrez, Michael M. Abecassis, Ramille N. Shah, Jason A. Wertheima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are new diagnostic and potentially therapeutic tools to model disease and assess the toxicity of pharmaceutical medications. A common limitation of cell lineages derived from iPSCs is a blunted phenotype compared with fully developed, endogenous cells. We examined the influence of novel three-dimensional bioartificial microenvironments on function and maturation of hepatocyte-like cells differentiated from iPSCs and grown within an acellular, liver-derived extracellular matrix (ECM) scaffold. In parallel, we also compared a bioplotted poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) scaffold that allows for cell growth in three dimensions and formation of cell-cell contacts but is infused with type I collagen (PLLA-collagen scaffold) alone as a “deconstructed” control scaffold with narrowed biological diversity. iPSC-derived hepatocytes cultured within both scaffolds remained viable, became polarized, and formed bile canaliculi-like structures; however, cells grown within ECM scaffolds had significantly higher P450 (CYP2C9, CYP3A4, CYP1A2) mRNA levels and metabolic enzyme activity compared with iPSC hepatocytes grown in either bioplotted PLLA collagen or Matrigel sandwich control culture. Additionally, the rate of albumin synthesis approached the level of primary cryopreserved hepatocytes with lower transcription of fetal-specific genes, α-fetoprotein and CYP3A7, compared with either PLLA-collagen scaffolds or sandwich culture. These studies show that two acellular, three-dimensional culture systems increase the function of iPSC-derived hepatocytes. However, scaffolds derived from ECM alone induced further hepatocyte maturation compared with bioplotted PLLAcollagen scaffolds. This effect is likely mediated by the complex composition of ECM scaffolds in contrast to bioplotted scaffolds, suggesting their utility for in vitro hepatocyte assays or drug discovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1257-1267
Number of pages11
JournalStem Cells Translational Medicine
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Induced pluripotent stem cells
  • Liver
  • Stem cell-microenvironment interactions
  • Stem/progenitor cell
  • Tissue regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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