Purification of rat hepatic stellate cells by side scatter-activated cell sorting

Albert Geerts, T. Niki, Karine Hellemans, Dirk De Craemer, Kristel Van Den Berg, Jean-Marc Lazou, Geert Stange, Marnix Van De Winkel, Pieter De Bleser

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98 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In this study, we present a new method to obtain pure, viable, freshly isolated hepatic stellate cells. Stellate cells were purified by cell sorting using their high side scatter (SSC) of incident light. Purity of the cells was established by light and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Starting from stellate cells that were 50% to 70% enriched by centrifugation in 11% Nycodenz, the cell purity after sorting was found to be 96.6% +/- 2.9%. Viability of the sorted cells was 90.8% +/- 2.2% as measured by the Trypan blue exclusion test and was confirmed by cell culturing. Per hour of sorting, 1.4 +/- 0.4 million stellate cells were obtained. Sorting runs of up to 4 hours were practically feasible, resulting in yields of 5 to 6 million cells per rat liver. Cells attached to plastic substratum within 24 hours. Subsequently, they spread and underwent spontaneous transition into myofibroblast-like cells. The purity of sorted cells was documented by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) experiments using specific primer pairs for messenger RNA (mRNA) species that were only present in parenchymal (preproalbumin), endothelial (endothelial cell nitric oxide synthase [eNOS]), stellate (desmin), or Kupffer cells (77- to 88-kd fucose receptor). Contaminating mRNA species were absent in sorted stellate cells. Next, we examined freshly sorted stellate cells by Western blotting to confirm the presence of relevant cytoskeletal proteins. Cells were positive for vimentin, desmin, and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), but negative for alpha-smooth muscle actin (alpha-SMA). Sorted and cultured cells were immunophenotyped for the presence of collagen types I, III, and IV, laminin, and the cytoskeletal proteins, alpha-SMA, desmin, vimentin, and GFAP. At 90 hours in culture, cells expressed all the investigated extracellular matrix proteins. Desmin was present in 82% +/- 1%, vimentin in 96% +/- 2.5%, and GFAP in 91% +/- 4.5% of cells. Alpha-SMA was present in 91% +/- 2% of cultured cells. We conclude that cell sorting based on SSC of incident light is a convenient method to obtain virtually pure stellate cells that can be used for direct analysis or for culturing. Although the yields obtained with this method are lower than with standard methods, and additional equipment is required, SSC-activated sorting offers the possibility of very pure cells when essential for analyses based on sensitive detection methods such as RT-PCR.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)590-598
Number of pages9
JournalHepatology
Volume27
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1998

Keywords

  • hepatic cells

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