Background & Aims: There is a long-standing debate regarding the biological significance of polyploidy in hepatocytes. Recent studies have provided increasing evidence that hepatocytes with different ploidy statuses behave differently in a context-dependent manner (eg, susceptibility to oncogenesis, regenerative ability after injury, and in vitro proliferative capacity). However, their overall transcriptomic differences in a physiological context is not known. Methods: By using microarray transcriptome analysis, we investigated the heterogeneity of hepatocyte populations with different ploidy statuses. Moreover, by using single-cell quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (scPCR) analysis, we investigated the intrapopulational transcriptome heterogeneity of 2c and 4c hepatocytes. Results: Microarray analysis showed that cell cycle–related genes were enriched in 8c hepatocytes, which is in line with the established notion that polyploidy is formed via cell division failure. Surprisingly, in contrast to the general consensus that 2c hepatocytes reside in the periportal region, in our bulk transcriptome and scPCR analyses, the 2c hepatocytes consistently showed pericentral hepatocyte-enriched characteristics. In addition, scPCR analysis identified a subpopulation within the 2c hepatocytes that co-express the liver progenitor cell markers Axin2, Prom1, and Lgr5, implying the potential biological relevance of this subpopulation. Conclusions: This study provides new insights into hepatocyte heterogeneity, namely 2c hepatocytes are preferentially localized to the pericentral region, and a subpopulation of 2c hepatocytes show liver progenitor cell–like features in terms of liver progenitor cell marker expression (Axin2, Prom1, and Lgr5).
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