Highly porous polymer matrices as a three-dimensional culture system for hepatocytes


Kaufmann PM, Heimrath S, Kim BS, Mooney DJ. Highly porous polymer matrices as a three-dimensional culture system for hepatocytes. Cell Transplant. 1997;6 (5) :463-8.

Date Published:

1997 Sep-Oct


Hepatocyte-based therapies (e.g., hepatocyte transplantation and extracorporeal support devices) may provide alternative therapies to treat patients with liver disease, but suitable approaches to localize these cells to a given location while maintaining liver-specific gene expression must be developed. The suitability of highly porous three-dimensional sponges fabricated from poly (L-lactic acid) [PLLA] as an hepatocyte culture system was evaluated in this study. Sponges were fabricated utilizing a particulate leaching technique, and were approximately 95% porous, with an average pore diameter of 180 microns. Hepatocytes seeded into these sponges adhered and remained viable for 14 days. However, the secretion rate of albumin from these cells, an indication of liver-specific gene expression, was low (approximately 6 pg/cell/day at day 1), and decreased steadily over the 14 days of the experiment. Coating sponges with collagen, and more preferably, immobilizing cells within the PLLA sponges with a collagen gel, led to enhanced cell survival and albumin secretion at all time points. These data suggest that porous PLLA sponges may provide a novel system for long-term culture of hepatocytes, and proper design of the system may allow the liver-specific gene expression of hepatocytes transplanted in these matrices to be enhanced.