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  • Bogacheva, Mariia S.; Khan, Sofia; Kanninen, Liisa K.; Yliperttula, Marjo; Leung, Alan W.; Lou, Yan-Ru (2018)
    Definitive endoderm (DE) is the first stage of human pluripotent stem cell (hPSC) differentiation into hepatocyte-like cells. Developing human liver cell models for pharmaceutical applications is highly demanding. Due to the vast number of existing protocols to generate DE cells from hPSCs, we aimed to compare the specificity and efficiency of selected published differentiation conditions. We differentiated two hPSC lines (induced PSC and embryonic stem cell) to DE cells on Matrigel matrix using growth factors (Activin A and Wnt-3a) and small molecules (sodium butyrate and IDE 1) in different combinations. By studying dynamic changes during 6 days in cell morphology and the expression of markers for pluripotency, DE, and other germ layer lineages, we found that Activin A is essential for DE differentiation, while Wnt-3a and sodium butyrate are dispensable. Although sodium butyrate exerted rapid DE differentiation kinetics, it caused massive cell death and could not generate sufficient cells for further differentiation and applications. We further discover that IDE 1 could not induce DE as reported previously. Hereby, we compared different conditions for DE induction and found an effective six day-protocol to obtain DE cells for the further differentiation and applications.
  • Kanninen, Liisa K.; Porola, Pauliina; Niklander, Johanna; Malinen, Melina M.; Corlu, Anne; Guguen-Guillouzo, Christiane; Urtti, Arto; Yliperttula, Marjo L.; Lou, Yan-Ru (2016)
    Human hepatocytes are extensively needed in drug discovery and development. Stem cell-derived hepatocytes are expected to be an improved and continuous model of human liver to study drug candidates. Generation of endoderm-derived hepatocytes from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), including human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells, is a complex, challenging process requiring specific signals from soluble factors and insoluble matrices at each developmental stage. In this study, we used human liver progenitor HepaRG-derived acellular matrix (ACM) as a hepatic progenitor-specific matrix to induce hepatic commitment of hPSC-derived definitive endoderm (DE) cells. The DE cells showed much better attachment to the HepaRG ACM than other matrices tested and then differentiated towards hepatic cells, which expressed hepatocyte-specific makers. We demonstrate that Matrigel overlay induced hepatocyte phenotype and inhibited biliary epithelial differentiation in two hPSC lines studied. In conclusion, our study demonstrates that the HepaRG ACM, a hepatic progenitor-specific matrix, plays an important role in the hepatic differentiation of hPSCs. (C) 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
  • Tamminen, Kaisa; Balboa Alonso, Diego; Toivonen, Sanna; Pakarinen, Mikko P.; Wiener, Zoltan; Alitalo, Kari; Otonkoski, Timo (2015)
    Wnt/beta-catenin signaling plays a central role in guiding the differentiation of the posterior parts of the primitive gut tube into intestinal structures in vivo and some studies suggest that FGF4 is another crucial factor for intestinal development. The aim of this study was to define the effects of Wnt and FGF4 on intestinal commitment in vitro by establishing conditions for differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells (hPSC) into posterior endoderm (hindgut) and further to self-renewing intestinal-like organoids. The most prominent induction of the well-established intestinal marker gene CDX2 was achieved when hPSC-derived definitive endoderm cells were treated with Wnt agonist molecule CHIR99021 during differentiation to hindgut. FGF4 was found to be dispensable during intestinal commitment, but it had an early role in repressing development towards the hepatic lineage. When hindgut stage cells were further cultured in 3D, they formed self-renewing organoid structures containing all major intestinal cell types even without exogenous R-spondin1 (RSPO1), a crucial factor for the culture of epithelial organoids derived from adult intestine. This may be explained by the presence of a mesenchymal compartment in the hPSC-derived organoids. Addition of WNT3A increased the expression of the Paneth cell marker Lysozyme in hPSC-derived organoid cultures, whereas FGF4 inhibited both the formation and maturation of intestinal-like organoids. Similar hindgut and organoid cultures were established from human induced pluripotent stem cells, implying that this approach can be used to create patient-specific intestinal tissue models for disease modeling in vitro.
  • Noisa, Parinya; Raivio, Taneli; Cui, Wei (2015)
    Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are able to proliferate in vitro indefinitely without losing their ability to differentiate into multiple cell types upon exposure to appropriate signals. Particularly, the ability of hESCs to differentiate into neuronal subtypes is fundamental to develop cell-based therapies for several neuro degenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, and Parkinson's disease. In this study, we differentiated hESCs to dopaminergic neurons via an intermediate stage, neural progenitor cells (NPCs). hESCs were induced to neural progenitor cells by Dorsomorphin, a small molecule that inhibits BMP signalling. The resulting neural progenitor cells exhibited neural bipolarity with high expression of neural progenitor genes and possessed multipotential differentiation ability. CBF1 and bFGF responsiveness of these hES-NP cells suggested their similarity to embryonic neural progenitor cells. A substantial number of dopaminergic neurons were derived from hES-NP cells upon supplementation of FGF8 and SHH, key dopaminergic neuron inducers. Importantly, multiple markers of midbrain neurons were detected, including NURR1, PITX3, and EN1, suggesting that hESC-derived dopaminergic neurons attained the midbrain identity. Altogether, this work underscored the generation of neural progenitor cells that retain the properties of embryonic neural progenitor cells. These cells will serve as an unlimited source for the derivation of dopaminergic neurons, which might be applicable for treating patients with Parkinson's disease.