Document Type : Original Article
Stem Cell Convergence Research Center, Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB), 125 Gwahak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, Republic of Korea
Department of Functional Genomics, Korea University of Science and Technology (UST), 217 Gajungro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon, Republic of Korea
Objective: Combined hepatocellular-cholangiocarcinoma (cHCC-CC) is a rare type of primary liver cancer with characteristics of both hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and cholangiocarcinoma (CC). The pathogenesis of cHCCCC is poorly understood due to a shortage of suitable in vitro models. Due to scarce availability of human liver tissue, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are a useful alternative source to produce renewable liver cells. For use in the development of liver pathology models, here we successfully developed and evaluated iPSCs from liver fibroblasts of a patient with cHCC-CC.
Materials and Methods: In this experimental study, human liver fibroblasts (HLFs) were obtained from the liver biopsy of
a 69-year-old male patient with cHCC-CC and transduced with a retroviral cocktail that included four factors - OCT4, SOX2, KLF4, and c-MYC (OSKM). Pluripotency of the iPSCs was determined by alkaline phosphatase (AP) staining, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and immunofluorescence. We induced in vitro embryoid body (EB) formation and performed an in vivo teratoma assay to confirm their differentiation capacity into the three germ layers.
Results: HLF iPSCs derived from the cHCC-CC patient displayed typical iPSC-like morphology and pluripotency marker expression. The proficiency of the iPSCs to differentiate into three germ layers was assessed both in vitro and in vivo. Compared to normal control iPSCs, differentiated HLF iPSCs showed increased expressions of HCC markers alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and Dickkopf-1 (DKK1) and the CC marker cytokeratin 7 (CK7), and a decreased expression of the CC tumour suppressor SRY-related HMG-box 17 (SOX17).
Conclusion: We established HLF iPSCs using liver fibroblasts from a patient with cHCC-CC for the first time. The HLF iPSCs maintained marker expression in the patient when differentiated into EBs. Therefore, HLF iPSCs may be a sustainable cell source for modelling cHCC-CC and beneficial for understanding liver cancer pathology and developing therapies for cHCC-CC treatment.