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Human hepatocyte transplantation is being trialled in lieu of orthotopic liver transplants for patients with acute and chronic liver diseases. Stem cells that can be differentiated into hepatocyte-like cells may replace human hepatocytes that are difficult to source, culture and in critically short supply. Hepatocyte-like cells have been derived from embryonic and adult tissue stem cells using a combination of growth factors and chemical inducers. Stem cells derived from the human placenta have gained interest due to the unlimited supply of placental tissue, minimal issues associated with stem cell retrieval from placental tissue and the large yields of stem cells that can be obtained. Placental stem cells have been characterised and differentiated into hepatocyte-like cells. This review summarises the literature relating to the differentiation of human placental stem cells into hepatocyte-like cells, the characterisation of the differentiated cells, testing the functionality of the hepatocyte-like cells in pre-clinical animal models of liver disease and biomaterials used for culturing and transplantation of these cells into extra-hepatic sites.
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