Background & Aims: The human liver-uPA+/+-SCID mouse is currently the best small animal model available for viral hepatitis infection studies. Methods: We identify critical factors affecting animal survival, engraftment efficacy, kinetics of liver repopulation and virological outcome by analysing the data from 400 human hepatocyte transplantations and 115 subsequent HBV and/or HCV inoculations in this mouse model. Results: Almost one third of animals succumbed during the first week after hepatocyte transplantation. Only during this critical period, liver necrosis due to embolization of donor cells in the portal vein was observed. This may have caused a fatal acute liver failure that complicated the pre-existing chronic liver disease. From the second week onwards, confluent hepatocyte clusters repopulated the liver and restored its synthetic functions as evidenced by increasing human albumin levels in plasma. Xenogenic repopulation by human cells proceeded approximately 4-times slower compared to allogenic mouse hepatocytes. All HBV inoculations were successful, even in animals with low graft take. HCV infection rate varied substantially, although every donor cell type yielded infectable animals. A reproducible 100% HCV infectivity was reached with high quality inocula in animals with human albumin plasma levels >1 mg/ml. Superior animal survival, adequate liver engraftment and a high viral infection rate were observed after transplanting cryopreserved commercial human hepatocytes. Conclusions: Our findings favour the use of commercially available, cryopreserved human hepatocytes for the humanization of the uPA+/+-SCID liver. While HBV infectivity criteria are less stringent, human albumin plasma levels exceeding 1 mg/ml are required for a consistent HCV infection in chimeric mice.

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Journal of Hepatology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Vanwolleghem, T., Libbrecht, L., Hansen, B., Desombere, I., Roskams, T., Meuleman, P., & Leroux-Roels, G. (2010). Factors determining successful engraftment of hepatocytes and susceptibility to hepatitis B and C virus infection in uPA-SCID mice. Journal of Hepatology, 53(3), 468–476. doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2010.03.024