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Stem Cells Dev. 2009 Oct;18(8):1167-78. doi: 10.1089/scd.2008.0336.

Characterization of canine embryonic stem cell lines derived from different niche microenvironments.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


Embryo-derived stem cells hold enormous potential for producing cell-based transplantation therapies, allowing high-throughput drug screening and delineating early embryonic development. However, potential clinical applications must first be tested for safety and efficacy in preclinical animal models. Due to physiological and genetic parity to humans, the domestic dog is widely used as a clinically relevant animal model for cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, orthopedic, and oncologic diseases. Therefore, we established numerous putative canine embryonic stem cell (cESC) lines by immunodissection of the inner cell mass (ICM), which we termed OVC.ID.1-23, and by explant outgrowths from whole canine blastocysts, named OVC.EX.1-16. All characterized lines were immunopositive for OCT4, SOX2, NANOG, SSEA-3, and SSEA-4; displayed high telomerase and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activities; and were maintained in this state up to 37 passages ( approximately 160 days). Colonies from OVC.EX lines showed classic domed hESC-like morphology surrounded by a ring of fibroblast-like cells, whereas all OVC.ID lines exhibited a mixed cell colony of tightly packed cESCs surrounded by a GATA6+/CDX2- hypoblast-derived support layer. Spontaneous serum-only differentiation without feeder layers demonstrated a strong lineage selection associated with the colony niche type, and not the isolation method. Upon differentiation, cESC lines formed embryoid bodies (EB) comprised of cells representative of all germinal layers, and differentiated into cell types of each layer. Canine ESC lines such as these have the potential to identify differences between embryonic stem cell line derivations, and to develop or to test cell-based transplantation therapies in the dog before attempting human clinical trials.

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