Enhanced metabolizing activity of human ES cell-derived hepatocytes using a 3D culture system with repeated exposures to xenobiotics

Jong Hyun Kim, Yu Jin Jang, Su Yeon An, Jeongsang Son, Jaehun Lee, Gyunggyu Lee, Ji Young Park, Han Jin Park, Dong Youn Hwang, Jong Hoon Kim, Jiyou Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Highly homogeneous and functional stem cell-derived hepatocyte-like cells (HLCs) are considered a promising option in the cell-based therapy of liver disease and the development of effective in vitro toxicity screening tools. However, the purity of cells and expression and/or activity of drugmetabolizing enzymes in stem cell-derived HLCs are usually too low to be useful for clinical or in vitro applications. Here, we describe a highly optimized hepatic differentiation protocol, which produces > 90% (BGO1 and CHA15) albumin-positive HLCs with no purification process from human embryonic stem cell lines. In addition, we show that hepatic enzyme gene expressions and activities were significantly improved by generating 3D spheroidal aggregate of HLCs, compared with 2D HLCs. The 3D differentiationmethod increased expression of nuclear receptors (NRs) that regulate the proper expression of key hepatic enzymes. Furthermore, significantly increased hepatic functions such as albumin and urea secretion were observed in 3D hepatic spheroids, compared with 2D HLCs. HLCs in the spheroid exhibitedmorphological and ultrastructural features of normal hepatocytes. Importantly, we show that repeated exposures to xenobiotics facilitated further functional maturation of HLC, as confirmed by increased expression of genes for drugmetabolizing enzymes and transcription factors. In conclusion, the 3D culture system with repeated exposures to xenobioticsmay be a new strategy for enhancing hepaticmetabolizing ability of stem cell-derived HLCs as a cell source for in vitro high-throughput hepatotoxicitymodels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-206
Number of pages17
JournalToxicological Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Sept 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society of Toxicology. All rights reserved.


  • 3D culture
  • CYP450 enzymes
  • Drug metabolism
  • Hepatic maturation
  • Human embryonic stem cell
  • Repeated exposure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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