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Stem Cells Dev. 2008 Jun;17(3):413-22. doi: 10.1089/scd.2007.0236.

A novel method for generating xeno-free human feeder cells for human embryonic stem cell culture.

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Institute of Maternal & Child Health, University of Calgary Medical School, Alberta Children's Hospital, Calgary, AB, Canada, T2N 4N1.


Long-term cultures of human embryonic stem (hES) cells require a feeder layer for maintaining cells in an undifferentiated state and increasing karyotype stability. In routine hES cell culture, mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF) feeders and animal component-containing media (FBS or serum replacement) are commonly used. However, the use of animal materials increases the risk of transmitting pathogens to hES cells and therefore is not optimal for use in cultures intended for human transplantation. There are other limitations with conventional feeder cells, such as MEFs, which have a short lifespan and can only be propagated five to six passages before senescing. Several groups have investigated maintaining existing hES cell lines and deriving new hES cell lines on human feeder layers. However, almost all of these human source feeder cells employed in previous studies were derived and cultured in animal component conditions. Even though one group previously reported the derivation and culture of human foreskin fibroblasts (HFFs) in human serum-containing medium, this medium is not optimal because HFFs routinely undergo senescence after 10 passages when cultured in human serum. In this study we have developed a completely animal-free method to derive HFFs from primary tissues. We demonstrate that animal-free (AF) HFFs do not enter senescence within 55 passages when cultured in animal-free conditions. This methodology offers alternative and completely animal-free conditions for hES cell culture, thus maintaining hES cell morphology, pluripotency, karyotype stability, and expression of pluripotency markers. Moreover, no difference in hES cell maintenance was observed when they were cultured on AF-HFFs of different passage number or independent derivations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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