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Transplantation d'hépatocytes génétiquement modifiés : régénération hépatique et moyens d'amélioration de la prise de greffe hépatocytaire

Abstract : Hepatocyte transplantation is an attractive process for replacing deficient cells in an anatomically normal liver. In metabolic liver diseases, cell therapy could be an interesting alternative to orthotopic liver transplantation. The replacement of a small percentage (5-10%) of deficient hepatocytes by normal hepatocytes could restore the metabolic defect at a long term. Data from clinical studies of hepatocyte autotransplantation or allotransplantation, genetically modified or not, provided poor results, insufficient cell engraftment in the liver parenchyma and, in the majority of cases, a transient therapeutic effect. The limited efficacy of hepatocyte transplantation in metabolic liver diseases is mainly due to the poor percentage of engrafted and finally functional hepatocytes. Numerous animal models have been developed in order to study the factors that could increase the number and the percentage of transplanted and engrafted hepatocytes. However, the majority of these models cannot be used in patients since they present important risks for them. The aim of this work was to evaluate less invasive procedures for inducing liver regeneration and significant hepatocyte engraftment in order to develop a new approach of transplantation of ex vivo genetically modified hepatocytes for the treatment of familial hypercholesterolemia. The effect of reversible portal vein embolization (PVE) on liver regeneration and hepatocyte proleferation was evaluated in monkeys. In contrast to PVE by a permanent embolizing agent, reversible PVE has not a long term deleterious effect on embolized liver. A more complete venous occlusion was obtained by using the powdered form of an absorbable gelatin sponge (Curaspon®). We showed for the first time in the literature the safe and successful use of reversible PVE for inducing significant hepatocyte proliferation and liver regeneration. Our data support that an initial occlusion of the portal branch, even if not permanent, is sufficient to start the mechanisms of liver regeneration in the contralateral lobe. Embolization with Curaspon® powder could be considered to be the ultimate form of embolization: very distal, reversible and lasting sufficiently in order to induce substantial liver hypertrophy. Our findings suggest that this method could reliably be used for clinical purposes, particularly in situations in which short-term regeneration is required (i.e. multi-step management of hepatic malignancies) or in cases where resection of the liver is not finally necessary, such as in hepatocyte transplantation for the treatment of metabolic liver diseases. These promising results on reversible PVE allowed us to evaluate this approach in our preclinical study of gene therapy for the treatment of familial hypercholesterolemia in macaques. Our protocol consisted of an autotransplantation of ex vivo genetically modified hepatocytes by a lentiviral vector. We showed that reversible PVE induces liver regeneration of the non-embolized liver segments and improves considerably hepatocyte transplantation of genetically modified cells expressing Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP). Sixteen weeks after transplantation, transduced engrafted hepatocytes expressed the transgene, which was under control of the human apo-AII promoter. Our protocol showed for the first time in a big animal that PVE by an absorbable agent leads safely to an important and long-term repopulation of the liver by lentivirally transduced hepatocytes. The extremely encouraging results of this work opened our way advancing in our preclinical study and preparing a phase I/II clinical trial for the treatment of familial hypercholesterolemia based on our protocol of autotransplantation of ex vivo genetically modified hepatocytes by a lentiviral vector.
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Submitted on : Monday, October 29, 2012 - 2:52:26 PM
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Panagiotis Lainas. Transplantation d'hépatocytes génétiquement modifiés : régénération hépatique et moyens d'amélioration de la prise de greffe hépatocytaire. Médecine humaine et pathologie. Université Paris Sud - Paris XI, 2012. Français. ⟨NNT : 2012PA114842⟩. ⟨tel-00746653⟩

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