, Volume 71, Issue 1, pp 267–275 | Cite as

Direct and indirect coculture of mouse hepatic progenitor cells with mouse embryonic fibroblasts for the generation of hepatocytes and cholangiocytes

  • Tao Zhou
  • Wei Wang
  • Yasen Aimaiti
  • Xin Jin
  • Zhixin Chen
  • Liang Chen
  • Dewei LiEmail author
Original Article


The widespread use of hepatocytes and cholangiocytes for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering is restricted by the limited number of hepatocytes and cholangiocytes; a simple and effective method for the expansion and differentiation of the hepatic progenitor cells (HPCs) is required. Recent studies demonstrated that mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) play an important role in supporting the proliferation of the mouse hepatic progenitor cells (mHPCs). However, the effect of direct and indirect coculture of MEFs with mHPCs on the differentiation of mHPCs is poorly studied. Herein, we show that mHPCs rapidly proliferate and form colonies in direct or indirect contact coculture with MEFs in the serum-free medium. Importantly, after direct contact coculture of the mHPCs with MEFs for 6 days, mHPCs expressed the hepatic marker albumin (ALB) and did not express the cholangiocyte marker CK19, indicating their differentiation into hepatocytes. In contrast, after indirect contact coculture of the mHPCs with MEFs for 6 days, mHPCs expressed the cholangiocyte marker CK19 and did not express the hepatic marker ALB, indicating their differentiation into cholangiocytes. These results indicate that direct and indirect contact cocultures of the mHPCs with MEFs are useful for rapidly producing hepatocytes and cholangiocytes.


Hepatic progenitor cells Mouse embryonic fibroblasts Coculture Differentiation 



Mouse embryonic fibroblasts


Mouse hepatic progenitor cells


Hepatic progenitor cells


Fluorescence-activated cell sorting


Dubecco’s phosphate buffered saline


Delta-like 1 homologue





This work was supported by the General Program of National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 81470898).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Hepatobiliary SurgeryThe First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical UniversityChongqingPeople’s Republic of China

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