Avoiding the limitations of the adult liver niche, transplantation of hepatic stem/progenitor cells into fetal liver is desirable to analyze immature cells in a hepatic developmental environment. Here, we established a new monitor tool for cell fate of hepatic progenitor cells transplanted into the mouse fetal liver by using ex utero surgery. When embryonic day (ED) 14.5 hepatoblasts were injected into the ED14.5 fetal liver, the transplanted cells expressed albumin abundantly or α-fetoprotein weakly, and contained glycogen in the neonatal liver, indicating that transplanted hepatoblasts can proliferate and differentiate in concord with surrounding recipient parenchymal cells. The transplanted cells became mature in the liver of 6-week-old mice. Furthermore, this method was applicable to transplantation of hepatoblast-like cells derived from mouse embryonic stem cells. These data indicate that this unique technique will provide a new in vivo experimental system for studying cell fate of hepatic stem/progenitor cells and liver organogenesis. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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