, Volume 68, Issue 24, pp 3995-4008
Date: 24 Jul 2011

Specification of neuronal and glial subtypes from human pluripotent stem cells

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Abstract

Human pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), including embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), provide a dynamic tool for revealing early embryonic development, modeling pathological processes, and developing therapeutics through drug discovery and potential cell replacement. The first step toward the utilities of human PSCs is directed differentiation to functionally specialized cell/tissue types. Following developmental principles, human ESCs, and lately iPSCs, have been effectively differentiated to region- and/or transmitter-specific neuronal and glial types, including cerebral glutamatergic, striatal γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic, forebrain cholinergic, midbrain dopaminergic, and spinal motor neurons, as well as astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. These studies also reveal unique aspects of human cell biology, including intrinsically programmed developmental course, differential uses of transcription factors for neuroectoderm specification, and distinct responses to extracellular signals in regulating cell fate. Such information will be instrumental in translating biological findings to therapeutic development.