In 2006, as part of a collaboration between Fresenius Medical Care AG & Co. KGaA and the Camussi lab at the University of Turin, Herrera, Bruno, Buttiglieri et al. identified and characterized a population of cells with multiple differentiating capabilities. They named these cells human liver stem cells (HLSCs).
HLSCs are a novel progenitor population found in the liver, and are phenotypically different from oval cells. They do not express hematopoietic stem cell markers, but do express several mesenchymal markers as well as albumin, alfa-fetoprotein, and cytokeratins 8 and 18. This indicates a partial commitment to the hepatic lineage – they are able to differentiate into hepatocytes, endothelial, and osteogenic cells, but not adipocytes.
The production of HLSCs starts with hepatocytes from fresh surgical specimens of donors undergoing hepatectomies. These are cultured and then expanded under stringent conditions to generate an allogeneic master cell bank of HLSCs. From here, we further expand the HLSCs to generate batches for clinical use.