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Stem Cells. 2009 Feb;27(2):329-40. doi: 10.1634/stemcells.2008-0433.

Derivation and characterization of canine embryonic stem cell lines with in vitro and in vivo differentiation potential.

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  • 1Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) represent permanent cell lines that can be maintained in an undifferentiated state. In an environment that induces differentiation, they form derivatives of the three embryonic germ layers: mesoderm, ectoderm, and endoderm. These characteristics give ESCs great potential for both basic research and clinical applications in the areas of regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. The establishment of ESCs from large animals that model human diseases is of significant importance. We describe the derivation of permanent canine cell lines from preimplantation-stage embryos. Similar to human ESCs, canine ESCs expressed OCT3/4, NANOG, SOX2, SSEA-3, SSEA-4, TRA-1-60, TRA-1-81, and alkaline phosphatase, whereas they expressed very low levels of SSEA-1. They maintained a normal karyotype and morphology typical of undifferentiated ESCs after multiple in vitro passages and rounds of cryopreservation. Plating cells in the absence of a feeder layer, either in attachment or suspension culture, resulted in the formation of embryoid bodies and their differentiation to multiple cell types. In vivo, canine ESCs gave rise to teratomas comprising cell types of all three embryonic germ layers. These cells represent the first pluripotent canine ESC lines with both in vitro and in vivo differentiation potential and offer the exciting possibility of testing the efficacy and safety of ESC-based therapies in large animal models of human disease.

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