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Stem Cells. 2007 Feb;25(2):419-24. Epub 2006 Oct 19.

Efficient induction of oligodendrocytes from human embryonic stem cells.

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Department of Physiology, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Oligodendrocytes form myelin sheaths around axons to support rapid nerve conduction in the central nervous system (CNS). Damage to myelin can cause severe CNS disorders. In this study, we attempted to devise a protocol for the induction of oligodendrocytes from human embryonic stem (ES) cells to treat demyelinated axons. Four days after embryoid body formation, human ES cells were differentiated into neural precursors through selection and expansion procedures. Neural precursors were then grown in the presence of epidermal growth factor and then platelet-derived growth factor to generate oligodendrocyte precursor cells. After withdrawal of the growth factors, the cells were treated with thyroid hormone to induce differentiation into oligodendrocytes. This method resulted in approximately 81%-91% oligodendrocyte precursor cells and approximately 81% oligodendrocytes among total cells. The ability of the oligodendrocyte precursors to myelinate axons has been verified by coculturing with rat hippocampal neurons, confirming their biological functionality.

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