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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Dec 13;108(50):20189-94. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1108487108. Epub 2011 Nov 21.

Human embryonic stem cell-derived neurons adopt and regulate the activity of an established neural network.

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  • 1Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 647 Waisman Center, Madison, WI 53705, USA.


Whether hESC-derived neurons can fully integrate with and functionally regulate an existing neural network remains unknown. Here, we demonstrate that hESC-derived neurons receive unitary postsynaptic currents both in vitro and in vivo and adopt the rhythmic firing behavior of mouse cortical networks via synaptic integration. Optical stimulation of hESC-derived neurons expressing Channelrhodopsin-2 elicited both inhibitory and excitatory postsynaptic currents and triggered network bursting in mouse neurons. Furthermore, light stimulation of hESC-derived neurons transplanted to the hippocampus of adult mice triggered postsynaptic currents in host pyramidal neurons in acute slice preparations. Thus, hESC-derived neurons can participate in and modulate neural network activity through functional synaptic integration, suggesting they are capable of contributing to neural network information processing both in vitro and in vivo.

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