Transforming the spleen into a liver-like organ in vivo

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Science Advances  10 Jun 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 24, eaaz9974
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaz9974


Regenerating human organs remains an unmet medical challenge. Suitable transplants are scarce, while engineered tissues have a long way to go toward clinical use. Here, we demonstrate a different strategy that successfully transformed an existing, functionally dispensable organ to regenerate another functionally vital one in the body. Specifically, we injected a tumor extract into the mouse spleen to remodel its tissue structure into an immunosuppressive and proregenerative microenvironment. We implanted autologous, allogeneic, or xenogeneic liver cells (either primary or immortalized), which survived and proliferated in the remodeled spleen, without exerting adverse responses. Notably, the allografted primary liver cells exerted typical hepatic functions to rescue the host mice from severe liver damages including 90% hepatectomy. Our approach shows its competence in overcoming the key challenges in tissue regeneration, including insufficient transplants, immune rejection, and poor vascularization. It may be ready for translation into new therapies to regenerate large, complex human tissue/organs.

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