ABSTRACT: The availability of human neuronal progenitors (hNPs) in high purity would greatly facilitate neuronal drug discovery and developmental studies, as well as cell replacement strategies for neurodegenerative diseases and conditions, such as spinal cord injury, stroke, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and Huntington's disease. Here we describe for the first time a method for producing hNPs in large quantity and high purity from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in feeder-free conditions, without the use of exogenous noggin, sonic hedgehog or analogs, rendering the process clinically compliant. The resulting population displays characteristic neuronal-specific markers. When allowed to spontaneously differentiate into neuronal subtypes in vitro, cholinergic, serotonergic, dopaminergic and/or noradrenergic, and medium spiny striatal neurons were observed. When transplanted into the injured spinal cord the hNPs survived, integrated into host tissue, and matured into a variety of neuronal subtypes. Our method of deriving neuronal progenitors from hESCs renders the process amenable to therapeutic and commercial use.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(6):e20692. · 4.09 Impact Factor