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Nat Commun. 2013;4:2196. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3196.

hESC-derived Olig2+ progenitors generate a subtype of astroglia with protective effects against ischaemic brain injury.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, Davis, California 95817, USA.


Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have been differentiated to astroglia, but the utilization of hPSC-derived astroglia as cell therapy for neurological diseases has not been well studied. Astroglia are heterogeneous, and not all astroglia are equivalent in promoting neural repair. A prerequisite for cell therapy is to derive defined cell populations with superior therapeutic effects. Here we use an Olig2-GFP human embryonic stem cell (hESC) reporter to demonstrate that hESC-derived Olig2(+) progenitors generate a subtype of previously uncharacterized astroglia (Olig2PC-Astros). These Olig2PC-Astros differ substantially from astroglia differentiated from Olig2-negative hESC-derived neural progenitor cells (NPC-Astros), particularly in their neuroprotective properties. When grafted into brains subjected to global ischaemia, Olig2PC-Astros exhibit superior neuroprotective effects and improved behavioural outcome compared to NPC-Astros. Thus, this new paradigm of human astroglial differentiation is useful for studying the heterogeneity of human astroglia, and the unique Olig2PC-Astros may constitute a new cell therapy for treating cerebral ischaemia and other neurological diseases.

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