Umbilical cord blood (UCB) is a rich source of hematopoietic stem cells that possesses practical and ethical advantages. We previously reported a novel UCB-derived adult stem cells which we termed umbilical cord blood-derived multipotent progenitor cells' (MPCs). MPCs were capable of differentiating into functional neuronal cells. Under appropriate conditions lasting several days or weeks, we now show that the MPCs differentiate into hepatocyte-like cells in vitro; their properties were verified using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), Western blot, immunofluorescence, periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) staining of accumulated glycogen and an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). We also found that hepatic differentiated cells expressed hepatocyte specific markers, such as albumin, hepatocyte nuclear factor (HNF)-1alpha, HNF4, cytokeratin (CK)-8, CK-18, tyrosine amino transferase (TAT), and CYP2B6. Moreover, albumin was secreted, which suggests that MPCs from UCB possess multi-differentiation potential and have the capacity to differentiate into functional cells of hepatic lineage in vitro.
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