Catheter-directed Intraportal Delivery of Endothelial Cell Therapy for Liver Regeneration: A Feasibility Study in a Large-Animal Model of Cirrhosis.
Purpose To demonstrate the feasibility of imaging-guided catheter-directed delivery of endothelial cell therapy in a porcine model of cirrhosis for liver regeneration. Materials and Methods After approval from the institutional animal care and use committee, autologous liver endothelial cells were grown from core hepatic specimens from swine. Cirrhosis was induced in swine by means of transcatheter infusion of ethanol and iodized oil into the hepatic artery. Three weeks after induction of cirrhosis, the swine were randomly assigned to receive autologous cell therapy (endothelial cells, n = 4) or control treatment (phosphate-buffered saline, n = 4) by means of imaging-guided transhepatic intraportal catheterization. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis was performed on biopsy samples 1 hour after therapy. Three weeks after intraportal delivery of endothelial cells, the swine were euthanized and the explanted liver underwent quantitative pathologic examination. Statistical analysis was performed with an unpaired t test by using unequal variance. Results Liver endothelial cells were successfully isolated, cultured, and expanded from eight 20-mm, 18-gauge hepatic core samples to 50 × 10(6) autologous cells per pig. Intraportal delivery of endothelial cell therapy or saline was technically successful in all eight swine, with no complications. Endothelial cells were present in the liver for a minimum of 1 hour after intraportal infusion. Swine treated with endothelial cell therapy showed mean levels of surrogate markers of hepatobiliary injury that were consistent with decreases in hepatic fibrosis and biliary ductal damage relative to the control animals, although statistical significance was not met in this pilot study: The mean percentage of positive pixels at Masson trichrome staining was 7.28% vs 5.57%, respectively (P = .20), the mean proliferation index with cytokeratin wide-spectrum was 2.55 vs 1.13 (P = .06), and the mean proliferation index with Ki67 was 7.08 vs 4.96 (P = .14). Conclusion The results confirm the feasibility of imaging-guided catheter-directed endothelial cell therapy with an intraportal technique for the treatment of cirrhosis in a porcine model. A trend toward decreased liver fibrosis with endothelial cell therapy was observed. Larger animal studies and human studies are necessary to confirm significance. (©) RSNA, 2017.
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