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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Apr 11;103(15):5688-93. Epub 2006 Apr 4.

Defined culture conditions of human embryonic stem cells.

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Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511, USA.


Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are pluripotent cells that have the potential to differentiate into any tissue in the human body; therefore, they are a valuable resource for regenerative medicine, drug screening, and developmental studies. However, the clinical application of hESCs is hampered by the difficulties of eliminating animal products in the culture medium and/or the complexity of conditions required to support hESC growth. We have developed a simple medium [termed hESC Cocktail (HESCO)] containing basic fibroblast growth factor, Wnt3a, April (a proliferation-inducing ligand)/BAFF (B cell-activating factor belonging to TNF), albumin, cholesterol, insulin, and transferrin, which is sufficient for hESC self-renewal and proliferation. Cells grown in HESCO were maintained in an undifferentiated state as determined by using six different stem cell markers, and their genomic integrity was confirmed by karyotyping. Cells cultured in HESCO readily form embryoid bodies in tissue culture and teratomas in mice. In both cases, the cells differentiated into each of the three cell lineages, ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm, indicating that they maintained their pluripotency. The use of a minimal medium sufficient for hESC growth is expected to greatly facilitate clinical application and developmental studies of hESCs.

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