Adult liver has the unusual ability to fully regenerate after injury. Although regeneration is accomplished by the division of mature hepatocytes, the replicative potential of these cells is unknown. Here, the replicative capacity of adult liver cells and their medical usefulness as donor cells for transplantation were investigated by transfer of adult mouse liver cells into transgenic mice that display an endogenous defect in hepatic growth potential and function. The transplanted liver cell populations replaced up to 80 percent of the diseased recipient liver. These findings demonstrate the enormous growth potential of adult hepatocytes, indicating the feasibility of liver cell transplantation as a method to replace lost or diseased hepatic parenchyma.
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