Identification of the gliogenic state of human neural stem cells to optimize in vitro astrocyte differentiation


  • M. Alisch
  • J. Kerkering
  • T. Crowley
  • K. Rosiewicz
  • F. Paul
  • V. Siffrin


  • Journal of Neuroscience Methods


  • J Neurosci Methods 361: 109284


  • BACKGROUND: Human preclinical models are crucial for advancing biomedical research. In particular consistent and robust protocols for astrocyte differentiation in the human system are rare. NEW METHOD: We performed a transcriptional characterization of human gliogenesis using embryonic H9- derived hNSCs. Based on these findings we established a fast and highly efficient protocol for the differentiation of mature human astrocytes. We could reproduce these results in induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived NSCs. RESULTS: We identified an increasing propensity of NSCs to give rise to astrocytes with repeated cell passaging. The gliogenic phenotype of NSCs was marked by a down-regulation of stem cell factors (e.g. SOX1, SOX2, EGFR) and an increase of glia-associated factors (e.g. NFIX, SOX9, PDGFRa). Using late passage NSCs, rapid and robust astrocyte differentiation can be achieved within 28 days. COMPARISON WITH EXISTING METHOD(S): In published protocols it usually takes around three months to yield in mature astrocytes. The difficulty, expense and time associated with generating astrocytes in vitro represents a major roadblock for glial cell research. We show that rapid and robust astrocyte differentiation can be achieved within 28 days. We describe here by an extensive sequential transcriptome analysis of hNSCs the characterization of the signature of a novel gliogenic stem cell population. The transcriptomic signature might serve to identify the proper divisional maturity. CONCLUSIONS: This work sheds light on the factors associated with rapid NSC differentiation into glial cells. These findings contribute to understand human gliogenesis and to develop novel preclinical models that will help to study CNS disease such as Multiple Sclerosis.