Liver cells, insulin-producing cells, thymus can be grown in lymph nodes

Sep 27, 2012

(Phys.org)—Lymph nodes can provide a suitable home for a variety of cells and tissues from other organs, suggesting that a cell-based alternative to whole organ transplantation might one day be feasible, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and its McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. In a report recently published online in Nature Biotechnology, the research team showed for the first time that liver cells, thymus tissue and insulin-producing pancreatic islet cells, in an animal model, can thrive in lymph nodes despite being displaced from their natural sites.

infection, and other diseases can cause so much damage that is the only way to save the patient, noted senior investigator Eric Lagasse, Pharm. D., Ph.D., associate professor, Department of Pathology, Pitt School of Medicine. Children with DiGeorge syndrome lack functional thymus glands to produce essential immune cells, and diabetes can be cured with a .

"However, the scarcity of donor organs means many people will not survive the wait for transplantation," said Dr. Lagasse, whose lab is at the McGowan Institute. "Cell therapies are being explored, but introducing cells into tissue already ravaged by disease decreases the likelihood of successful engraftment and restoration of function."

In the study, his team tested the possibility of using lymph nodes, which are abundant throughout the body and have a rich blood supply, as a new home for cells from other organs in what is called an "ectopic" transplant.

They injected healthy from a genetically-identical donor animal into lymph nodes of mice at various locations. The result was an enlarged, liver-like node that functioned akin to the liver; in fact, a single hepatized lymph node rescued mice that were in danger of dying from a lethal metabolic liver disease. Likewise, thymus tissue transplanted into the lymph node of mice that lacked the organ generated functional immune systems, and pancreatic islet cell transplants restored normal blood sugar control in diabetic animals.

"Our goal is not necessarily to replace the entire liver, for example, but to provide sufficient cell mass to stabilize liver function and sustain the patient's life," Dr. Lagasse said. "That could buy time until a donor organ can be transplanted. Perhaps, in some cases, ectopic cell transplantation in the lymph node might allow the diseased organ to recover."

Explore further: Study shows how epigenetic memory is passed across generations

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

What is the function of lymph nodes?

May 26, 2009

If we imagine our immune system to be a police force for our bodies, then previous work has suggested that the Lymph nodes would be the best candidate structures within the body to act as police stations - the regions in ...

Adult stem cells take root in livers and repair damage

May 11, 2011

Johns Hopkins researchers have demonstrated that human liver cells derived from adult cells coaxed into an embryonic state can engraft and begin regenerating liver tissue in mice with chronic liver damage.

How liver kills 'killer cells'

Sep 19, 2011

Our livers can fight back against the immune system -- reducing organ rejection but also making us more susceptible to liver disease.

Recommended for you

For legume plants, a new route from shoot to root

9 hours ago

A new study shows that legume plants regulate their symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria by using cytokinins—signaling molecules— that are transmitted through the plant structure from leaves into ...

Controlling the transition between generations

Sep 18, 2014

Rafal Ciosk and his group at the FMI have identified an important regulator of the transition from germ cell to embryonic cell. LIN-41 prevents the premature onset of embryonic transcription in oocytes poised ...

User comments : 0