In vitro ballooned hepatocytes can be produced by primary human hepatocytes and hepatic stellate cell sheets

Nobuhiro Hasui, Katsuhisa Sakaguchi*, Tetsuya Ogawa, Yoshihiro Sakamoto, Tatsuya Shimizu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the increasing prevalence of Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) worldwide, there is no effective treatment available for this disease. “Ballooned hepatocyte” is a characteristic finding in NASH and is correlated with disease prognosis, but their mechanisms of action are poorly understood; furthermore, neither animal nor in vitro models of NASH have been able to adequately represent ballooned hepatocytes. Herein, we engineered cell sheets to develop a new in vitro model of ballooned hepatocytes. Primary human hepatocytes (PHH) and Hepatic stellate cells (HSC) were co-cultured to produce cell sheets, which were cultured in glucose and lipid containing medium, following which histological and functional analyses were performed. Histological findings showed hepatocyte ballooning, accumulation of fat droplets, abnormal cytokeratin arrangement, and the presence of Mallory–Denk bodies and abnormal organelles. These findings are similar to those of ballooned hepatocytes in human NASH. Functional analysis showed elevated levels of TGFβ-1, SHH, and p62, but not TNF-α, IL-8. Exposure of PHH/HSC sheets to a glucolipotoxicity environment induces ballooned hepatocyte without inflammation. Moreover, fibrosis is an important mechanism underlying ballooned hepatocytes and could be the basis for the development of a new in vitro NASH model with ballooned hepatocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5341
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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