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Labeling and tracking human amniotic epithelial cells with green fluorescent protein in an adeno-associated virus vector


Human amniotic epithelial cells (hAECs) are a recently identified type of stem cell. Thanks to their ready availability and the lower risk of teratoma formation, hAECs have been studied and tested for a variety of human disease treatments and tissue reconstruction efforts. This aim of this study was to establish a stable tracking system to further monitor hAECs in vivo after transplantation. hAECs were isolated from the placentas of patients who visited the Hunan Province Maternity and Child Care Hospitals between Jan 2008 and Jan 2009. Using the classic transfection/infection technique, we successfully introduced green fluorescent protein (GFP) into cultured hAECs with an adeno-associated virus (AAV) vector. The initial preparation of the AAV-GFP virus stock was titrated using HT1081 cells, and further used for the infection of hAECs. GFP+ hAECs preserve the capacity of differentiation into hepatocytelike cells with the expression of cytokeratin-18 (CK18) and albumin (ALB). AAV-GFP virus-infected hAECs were transplanted through the spleen into severe combined immune deficiency (SCID) mice via hepatectomy. Four weeks later, the GFP and human albumin expressions were examined in multiple organs through immunoflourence staining. In culture, over 50% of the hAECs were GFP-positive 3 days after infection. Following transplantation, AAV-GFPinfected hAECs survived and continued to express GFP in the host for up to 4 weeks. These cells were primarily found in the spleen and liver, expressing human albumin. This study provides a feasible and stable system to track hAECs. It may prove useful to further identify their biological characteristics after transplantation and to elucidate their beneficial roles for therapeutic purposes.



adeno-associated virus




CK18 cytokeratin




fetal bovine serum


green fluorescent protein


human amniotic epithelial cell


human embryonic stem cell


hepatocyte growth factor


insulin-like growth factor


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Correspondence to Hongwu Luo.

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These Authors equally contributed to this paper

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Huang, X., Luo, H., Huang, F.Z. et al. Labeling and tracking human amniotic epithelial cells with green fluorescent protein in an adeno-associated virus vector. Cell Mol Biol Lett 16, 201–213 (2011).

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Key words

  • Human amniotic epithelial cells
  • Adeno-associated virus
  • Green fluorescent protein
  • Transplantation
  • Tracking system