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Differentiation of human embryonic stem cells on three-dimensional polymer scaffolds

By Shulamit Levenberg, Ngan F. Huang, Erin Lavik, Arlin B. Rogers, Joseph Itskovitz-Eldor and Robert Langer


Human embryonic stem (hES) cells hold promise as an unlimited source of cells for transplantation therapies. However, control of their proliferation and differentiation into complex, viable 3D tissues is challenging. Here we examine the use of biodegradable polymer scaffolds for promoting hES cell growth and differentiation and formation of 3D structures. We show that complex structures with features of various committed embryonic tissues can be generated, in vitro, by using early differentiating hES cells and further inducing their differentiation in a supportive 3D environment such as poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid)/poly(l-lactic acid) polymer scaffolds. We found that hES cell differentiation and organization can be influenced by the scaffold and directed by growth factors such as retinoic acid, transforming growth factor β, activin-A, or insulin-like growth factor. These growth factors induced differentiation into 3D structures with characteristics of developing neural tissues, cartilage, or liver, respectively. In addition, formation of a 3D vessel-like network was observed. When transplanted into severe combined immunodeficient mice, the constructs continue to express specific human proteins in defined differentiated structures and appear to recruit and anastamose with the host vasculature. This approach provides a unique culture system for addressing questions in cell and developmental biology, and provides a potential mechanism for creating viable human tissue structures for therapeutic applications

Topics: Biological Sciences
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
Year: 2003
DOI identifier: 10.1073/pnas.1735463100
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:240688
Provided by: PubMed Central
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