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Biomaterials. 2010 Sep;31(27):7032-42. doi: 10.1016/j.biomaterials.2010.06.017. Epub 2010 Jun 29.

The long-term survival of in vitro engineered nervous tissue derived from the specific neural differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells.

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Department of Pathology and Immunology, CMU-University of Geneva, Rue Michel-Servet 1, Geneva 4, Switzerland.


Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) offer attractive prospective as potential source of neurons for cell replacement therapy in human neurodegenerative diseases. Besides, ESCs neural differentiation enables in vitro tissue engineering for fundamental research and drug discovery aimed at the nervous system. We have established stable and long-term three-dimensional (3D) culture conditions which can be used to model long latency and complex neurodegenerative diseases. Mouse ESCs-derived neural progenitor cells generated by MS5 stromal cells induction, result in strictly neural 3D cultures of about 120-mum thick, whose cells expressed mature neuronal, astrocytes and myelin markers. Neurons were from the glutamatergic and gabaergic lineages. This nervous tissue was spatially organized in specific layers resembling brain sub-ependymal (SE) nervous tissue, and was maintained in vitro for at least 3.5 months with great stability. Electron microscopy showed the presence of mature synapses and myelinated axons, suggesting functional maturation. Electrophysiological activity revealed biological signals involving action potential propagation along neuronal fibres and synaptic-like release of neurotransmitters. The rapid development and stabilization of this 3D cultures model result in an abundant and long-lasting production that is compatible with multiple and productive investigations for neurodegenerative diseases modeling, drug and toxicology screening, stress and aging research.

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