Characterization of hepatic markers in human Wharton's Jelly-derived mesenchymal stem cells

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19 Citations (Scopus)


Stem cell technology could offer a unique tool to develop human-based in vitro liver models that are applicable for testing of potential liver toxicity early during drug development. In this context, recent research has indicated that human Wharton's Jelly-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hWJs) represent an interesting stem cell population to develop human hepatocyte-like cells. Here, an in-depth analysis of the expression of liver-specific transcription factors and other key hepatic markers in hWJs is evaluated at both the mRNA and protein level. Our results reveal that transcription factors that are mandatory to acquire and maintain an adult hepatic phenotype (HNF4A and HNF1A), as well as adult hepatic markers (ALB, CX32, CYP1A1, CYP1A2, CYP2B6 and CYP3A4) are not expressed in hWJs with the exception of K18. On the contrary, transcription factors involved in liver development (GATA4, GATA6, SOX9 and SOX17) and liver progenitor markers (DKK1, DPP4, DSG2, CX43 and K19) were found to be highly expressed in hWJs. These findings provide additional indication that hWJs could be a promising stem cell source to generate hepatocyte-like cells necessary for the development of a functional human-based in vitro liver model.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-119
Number of pages7
JournalToxicology in Vitro
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Wharton's Jelly
  • umbilical cord
  • adult stem cells
  • liver development
  • hepatocyte


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