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Toxicol Sci. 2012 Apr;126(2):426-35. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfr354. Epub 2012 Jan 5.

Novel application of human neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells for highly sensitive botulinum neurotoxin detection.

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Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC) hold great promise for providing various differentiated cell models for in vitro toxigenicity testing. For Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin (BoNT) detection and mechanistic studies, several cell models currently exist, but none examine toxin function with species-specific relevance while exhibiting high sensitivity. The most sensitive cell models to date are mouse or rat primary cells and neurons derived from mouse embryonic stem cells, both of which require significant technical expertise for culture preparation. This study describes for the first time the use of hiPSC-derived neurons for BoNT detection. The neurons used in this study were differentiated and cryopreserved by Cellular Dynamics International (Madison, WI) and consist of an almost pure pan-neuronal population of predominantly gamma aminoisobutyric acidergic and glutamatergic neurons. Western blot and quantitative PCR data show that these neurons express all the necessary receptors and substrates for BoNT intoxication. BoNT/A intoxication studies demonstrate that the hiPSC-derived neurons reproducibly and quantitatively detect biologically active BoNT/A with high sensitivity (EC(50) ∼0.3 U). Additionally, the quantitative detection of BoNT serotypes B, C, E, and BoNT/A complex was demonstrated, and BoNT/A specificity was confirmed through antibody protection studies. A direct comparison of BoNT detection using primary rat spinal cord cells and hiPSC-derived neurons showed equal or increased sensitivity, a steeper dose-response curve and a more complete SNARE protein target cleavage for hiPSC-derived neurons. In summary, these data suggest that neurons derived from hiPSCs provide an ideal and highly sensitive platform for BoNT potency determination, neutralizing antibody detection and for mechanistic studies.

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