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Stem Cells Dev. 2017 Jul 15;26(14):1078-1085. doi: 10.1089/scd.2016.0306. Epub 2017 May 24.

A Novel Three-Dimensional Culture System for Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells.

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1 Neuroprotection Research Laboratory, Departments of Radiology and Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School , Charlestown, Massachusetts.
2 Department of Neurology, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University , Changsha, China .
3 Department of Neurology, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University , Kyoto, Japan .
4 Department of System Design Engineering, Keio University , Yokohama, Japan .
5 Tissue Engineering, VA Boston Healthcare System, Brigham and Women's Hospital , Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
6 Department of Pediatrics, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School , Boston, Massachusetts.


Oligodendrocytes are generated from oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs). Mechanisms of OPC differentiation have been extensively examined with two-dimensional cell culture systems. However, these cellular events may be more accurately represented using a three-dimensional (3D) model. In this study, we report the development of a novel 3D OPC culture system using gels composed of a mixture of collagen and hyaluronan, wherein cultured rat primary OPCs can proliferate and differentiate into oligodendrocytes. Our data show that the gel concentration and cell-seeding density are critical factors for the numbers of OPCs and oligodendrocytes in our 3D culture system. In addition, Notch signaling, which supports cell-to-cell communication, may also be important for OPC function in our system because a Notch inhibitor DAPT suppressed OPC proliferation and differentiation. Taken together, cultured rat OPCs can grow in collagen-/hyaluronan-based gels, and our novel 3D OPC culture system may offer a useful platform for examining the mechanisms of OPC function in vitro.


3D culture; Notch signaling; astrocyte; cell–cell interaction; oligodendrocyte precursor cell

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