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Mol Ther. 2009 Oct;17(10):1761-70. doi: 10.1038/mt.2009.148. Epub 2009 Jul 14.

Conditions for tumor-free and dopamine neuron-enriched grafts after transplanting human ES cell-derived neural precursor cells.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, College of Medicine, Hanyang University, Seoul 133-791, Korea.


We have previously demonstrated derivation of neural precursor (NP) cells of a midbrain-type from human embryonic stem (hES) cells to yield an enriched population of dopamine (DA) neurons. These hES-derived NPs can be expanded in vitro through multiple passages without altering their DA neurogenic potential. Here, we studied two aspects of these hES-NP cells that are critical issues in cell therapeutic approaches for Parkinson's disease (PD): cell survival and tumorigenic potential. Neuroepithelial rosettes, a potentially tumorigenic structure, disappeared during hES-NP cell expansion in vitro. Although a minor population of cells positive for Oct3/4, a marker specific for undifferentiated hES cells, persisted in culture during hES-NP cell expansion, they could be completely eliminated by subculturing hES-NPs under differentiation-inducing conditions. Consistently, no tumors/teratomas are formed in rats grafted with multipassaged hES-NPs. However, extensively expanded hES-NP cells easily underwent cell death during differentiation in vitro and after transplantation in vivo. Transgenic expression of Bcl-XL and sonic hedgehog (SHH) completely overcame the cell survival problems without increasing tumor formation. These findings indicate that hES-NP cell expansion in conjunction with Bcl-XL+SHH transgene expression may provide a renewable and safe source of DA neurons for transplantation in PD.

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