Background: Various methods have been developed to generate hepatic cells from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) that rely on the combined use of multiple expensive growth factors, limiting industrial-scale production and widespread applications. Small molecules offer an attractive alternative to growth factors for producing hepatic cells since they are more economical and relatively stable.

Methods: We dissect small-molecule combinations and identify the ideal cocktails to achieve an optimally efficient and cost-effective strategy for hepatic cells differentiation, expansion, and maturation.

Results: We demonstrated that small-molecule cocktail CIP efficiently induced definitive endoderm (DE) formation via increased endogenous TGF-β/Nodal signaling. Furthermore, we identified that combining Vitamin C, Dihexa, and Forskolin (VDF) could substitute growth factors to induce hepatic specification. The obtained hepatoblasts (HBs) could subsequently expand and mature into functional hepatocyte-like cells (HLCs) by the established chemical formulas. Thus, we established a stepwise strategy with complete small molecules for efficiently producing scalable HBs and functionally matured HLCs. The small-molecule derived HLCs displayed typical functional characteristics as mature hepatocytes in vitro and repopulating injured liver in vivo.

Conclusion: Our current small-molecule based hepatic generation protocol presents an efficient andcost-effective platform for thelarge-scale production of functional human hepatic cells for cell-based therapy and drug discovery using.

Other Link: 10.21203/rs.3.rs-1169294/v1 Other Link: Publisher Website Other Link: Download PDF Other Link: Google Scholar