Journal: Stem cell reports
Human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived pancreatic progenitor cells effectively reverse hyperglycemia in rodent models of type 1 diabetes, but their capacity to treat type 2 diabetes has not been reported. An immunodeficient model of type 2 diabetes was generated by high-fat diet (HFD) feeding in SCID-beige mice. Exposure to HFDs did not impact the maturation of macroencapsulated pancreatic progenitor cells into glucose-responsive insulin-secreting cells following transplantation, and the cell therapy improved glucose tolerance in HFD-fed transplant recipients after 24 weeks. However, since diet-induced hyperglycemia and obesity were not fully ameliorated by transplantation alone, a second cohort of HFD-fed mice was treated with pancreatic progenitor cells combined with one of three antidiabetic drugs. All combination therapies rapidly improved body weight and co-treatment with either sitagliptin or metformin improved hyperglycemia after only 12 weeks. Therefore, a stem cell-based therapy may be effective for treating type 2 diabetes, particularly in combination with antidiabetic drugs.
The rigorous characterization of distinct induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) derived from multiple reprogramming technologies, somatic sources, and donors is required to understand potential sources of variability and downstream potential. To achieve this goal, the Progenitor Cell Biology Consortium performed comprehensive experimental and genomic analyses of 58 iPSC from ten laboratories generated using a variety of reprogramming genes, vectors, and cells. Associated global molecular characterization studies identified functionally informative correlations in gene expression, DNA methylation, and/or copy-number variation among key developmental and oncogenic regulators as a result of donor, sex, line stability, reprogramming technology, and cell of origin. Furthermore, X-chromosome inactivation in PSC produced highly correlated differences in teratoma-lineage staining and regulator expression upon differentiation. All experimental results, and raw, processed, and metadata from these analyses, including powerful tools, are interactively accessible from a new online portal at https://www.synapse.org to serve as a reusable resource for the stem cell community.
Stem cell-derived somatic cells represent an unlimited resource for basic and translational science. Although promising, there are significant hurdles that must be overcome. Our focus is on the generation of the major cell type of the human liver, the hepatocyte. Current protocols produce variable populations of hepatocytes that are the product of using undefined components in the differentiation process. This serves as a significant barrier to scale-up and application. To tackle this issue, we designed a defined differentiation process using recombinant laminin substrates to provide instruction. We demonstrate efficient hepatocyte specification, cell organization, and significant improvements in cell function and phenotype. This is driven in part by the suppression of unfavorable gene regulatory networks that control cell proliferation and migration, pluripotent stem cell self-renewal, and fibroblast and colon specification. We believe that this represents a significant advance, moving stem cell-based hepatocytes closer toward biomedical application.
Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is a rare disease characterized by progressive ossification of soft tissues, for which there is no effective treatment. Mutations in the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) type I receptor activin receptor-like kinase 2 (ACVR1/ALK2) are the main cause of FOP. We generated human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) from FOP patients with the ALK2 R206H mutation. The mutant ALK2 gene changed differentiation efficiencies of hiPSCs into FOP bone-forming progenitors: endothelial cells (ECs) and pericytes. ECs from FOP hiPSCs showed reduced expression of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 and could transform into mesenchymal cells through endothelial-mesenchymal transition. Increased mineralization of pericytes from FOP hiPSCs could be partly inhibited by the ALK2 kinase inhibitor LDN-212854. Thus, differentiated FOP hiPSCs recapitulate some aspects of the disease phenotype in vitro, and they could be instrumental in further elucidating underlying mechanisms of FOP and development of therapeutic drug candidates.
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is composed of four cell populations, brain endothelial cells (BECs), pericytes, neurons, and astrocytes. Its role is to precisely regulate the microenvironment of the brain through selective substance crossing. Here we generated an in vitro model of the BBB by differentiating human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) into all four populations. When the four hiPSC-derived populations were co-cultured, endothelial cells (ECs) were endowed with features consistent with BECs, including a high expression of nutrient transporters (CAT3, MFSD2A) and efflux transporters (ABCA1, BCRP, PGP, MRP5), and strong barrier function based on tight junctions. Neuron-derived Dll1, which activates Notch signaling in ECs, was essential for the BEC specification. We performed in vitro BBB permeability tests and assessed ten clinical drugs by nanoLC-MS/MS, finding a good correlation with the BBB permeability reported in previous cases. This technology should be useful for research on human BBB physiology, pathology, and drug development.
The existence of slow-cycling luminal cells in the prostate has been suggested, but their identity and functional properties remain unknown. Using a bigenic mouse model to earmark, isolate, and characterize the quiescent stem-like cells, we identify a label-retaining cell (LRC) population in the luminal cell layer as luminal progenitors. Molecular and biological characterizations show that these luminal LRCs are significantly enriched in the mouse proximal prostate, exhibit relative dormancy, display bipotency in both in vitro and in vivo assays, and express a stem/progenitor gene signature with resemblance to aggressive prostate cancer. Importantly, these LRCs, compared with bulk luminal cells, maintain a lower level of androgen receptor (AR) expression and are less androgen dependent and also castration resistant in vivo. Finally, analysis of phenotypic markers reveals heterogeneity within the luminal progenitor cell pool. Our study establishes luminal LRCs as progenitors that may serve as a cellular origin for castration-resistant prostate cancer.
Early endoderm progenitors naturally possess robust propagating potential to develop a majority of meter-long gastrointestinal tracts and are therefore considered as a promising source for therapy. Here, we demonstrated the reproducible generation of human CDX2+ posterior gut endoderm cells (PGECs) from five induced pluripotent stem cell clones by manipulating FGF, TGF, and WNT signaling. Transcriptome analysis suggested that putative PGECs harbored an intermediate signature profile between definitive endoderm and organ-specific endoderm. We found that combinatorial EGF, VEGF, FGF2, Chir99021, and A83-01 treatments selectively amplify storable PGECs up to 1021 cell scale without any gene transduction or feeder use. PGECs, compared with induced pluripotent stem cells, showed stable differentiation propensity into multiple endodermal lineages without teratoma formation. Furthermore, transplantation of PGEC-derived liver bud organoids showed therapeutic potential against fulminant liver failure. Together, the robustly amplified PGECs may be a promising cellular source for endoderm-derived organoids in studying human development, modeling disease, and, ultimately, therapy.
Chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis are characterized by dysregulated responses to pro-inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α). Pharmacologic anti-cytokine therapies are often effective at diminishing this inflammatory response but have significant side effects and are used at high, constant doses that do not reflect the dynamic nature of disease activity. Using the CRISPR/Cas9 genome-engineering system, we created stem cells that antagonize IL-1- or TNF-α-mediated inflammation in an autoregulated, feedback-controlled manner. Our results show that genome engineering can be used successfully to rewire endogenous cell circuits to allow for prescribed input/output relationships between inflammatory mediators and their antagonists, providing a foundation for cell-based drug delivery or cell-based vaccines via a rapidly responsive, autoregulated system. The customization of intrinsic cellular signaling pathways in stem cells, as demonstrated here, opens innovative possibilities for safer and more effective therapeutic approaches for a wide variety of diseases.
Recent success in functional recovery by photoreceptor precursor transplantation in dysfunctional retina has led to an increased interest in using embryonic stem cell (ESC) or induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived retinal progenitors to treat retinal degeneration. However, cell-based therapies for end-stage degenerative retinas that have lost the outer nuclear layer (ONL) are still a big challenge. In the present study, by transplanting mouse iPSC-derived retinal tissue (miPSC retina) in the end-stage retinal-degeneration model (rd1), we visualized the direct contact between host bipolar cell terminals and the presynaptic terminal of graft photoreceptors by gene labeling, showed light-responsive behaviors in transplanted rd1 mice, and recorded responses from the host retina with transplants by ex vivo micro-electroretinography and ganglion cell recordings using a multiple-electrode array system. Our data provides a proof of concept for transplanting ESC/iPSC retinas to restore vision in end-stage retinal degeneration.
Mutation of the Gap Junction Beta 2 gene (GJB2) encoding connexin 26 (CX26) is the most frequent cause of hereditary deafness worldwide and accounts for up to 50% of non-syndromic sensorineural hearing loss cases in some populations. Therefore, cochlear CX26-gap junction plaque (GJP)-forming cells such as cochlear supporting cells are thought to be the most important therapeutic target for the treatment of hereditary deafness. The differentiation of pluripotent stem cells into cochlear CX26-GJP-forming cells has not been reported. Here, we detail the development of a novel strategy to differentiate induced pluripotent stem cells into functional CX26-GJP-forming cells that exhibit spontaneous ATP- and hemichannel-mediated Ca(2+) transients typical of the developing cochlea. Furthermore, these cells from CX26-deficient mice recapitulated the drastic disruption of GJPs, the primary pathology of GJB2-related hearing loss. These in vitro models should be useful for establishing inner-ear cell therapies and drug screening that target GJB2-related hearing loss.