Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Researchers derive human microglia from induced pluripotent stem cells

Yesterday, researchers presented the findings of a new study in which they have developed a method to turn mouse and human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) into microglia, small non neural cells forming part of the supporting structure of the central nervous system. The researchers say their study has implications in studying and possibly treating various diseases of the central nervous system (CNS).

Microglia, also known as Hortega cells, are immune cells that reside in the brain and spinal cord. They constitute the supporting structure of the central nervous system (CNS). Their basic function is to defend and repair the brain from injuries caused by invading microorganisms, cellular debris, trauma, stroke, brain tumours, and many degenerative, inflammatory and psychiatric diseases. Although, microglia have been used in the past in animals with CNS diseases, at present scientists don't have a method to produce high-purity patient-specific microglia. Developing such a method would be highly valuable, say the researchers of the new study.


Picture of rat microglia cells
Microglia cells from rats


During their research, the scientists first generated mouse and human iPSCs and then co-cultured them on various cell monolayers, in the presence of several growth factors. With further experimentation, they found that they could derive migroglia by co-culturing iPSCs with OP9 cells. These caused the iPSCs to become hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) which when co-cultured with astrocytes became microglial cells. The researchers also said that these iPSC-derived microglia can engraft and migrate to areas of injury within the brain, indicating they may one day be "useful as gene and protein delivery vehicles to the CNS".

"The actual results of our research were not surprising to us, but the overall importance of microglia in a wide variety of brain and spinal cord diseases was surprising. Microglia likely have a role in improving or worsening diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, obsessive compulsive disorder and Rett's syndrome, just to name a few. Microglia are the principal immune system cells of the brain and spinal cord, and help fight infections as well as help the healing process after injuries such as trauma and strokes. They also play a poorly understood role in many neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases. We have developed methods to turn iPSCs into microglia. Because human iPSC can easily be obtained in large numbers, we can now generate large numbers of human microglia not only for use in experiments, but also potentially for use in treatments. The ability to study normal and diseased human microglia will lead to a greater understanding of their roles in healthy brains and various diseases. Diseases that are caused or exacerbated by defective microglia or a paucity of normal microglia may potentially be treated by microglia generated from a patient's iPSC" said yesterday John K. Park, during the during the 81st American Association of Neurological Surgeons Annual Scientific Meeting

Reference
American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) (2013, April 29). Microglia can be derived from patient-specific human induced

1 comment:

  1. This paper has not been accepted for publication by a scientific journal, as far as I know. Looking forward to peer-reviewed results!

    ReplyDelete

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