An abbreviated protocol for in vitro generation of functional human embryonic stem cell-derived beta-like cells

Mohammad Massumi, Farzaneh Pourasgari, Amarnadh Nalla, Battsetseg Batchuluun, Kristina Nagy, Eric Neely, Rida Gull, Andras Nagy, Michael B. Wheeler

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The ability to yield glucose-responsive pancreatic beta-cells from human pluripotent stem cells in vitro will facilitate the development of the cell replacement therapies for the treatment of Type 1 Diabetes. Here, through the sequential in vitro targeting of selected signaling pathways, we have developed an abbreviated five-stage protocol (25±30 days) to generate human Embryonic Stem Cell-Derived Beta-like Cells (ES-DBCs). We showed that Geltrex, as an extracellular matrix, could support the generation of ES-DBCs more efficiently than that of the previously described culture systems. The activation of FGF and Retinoic Acid along with the inhibition of BMP, SHH and TGF-beta led to the generation of 75% NKX6.1+/NGN3+ Endocrine Progenitors. The inhibition of Notch and tyrosine kinase receptor AXL, and the treatment with Exendin-4 and T3 in the final stage resulted in 35% mono-hormonal insulin positive cells, 1% insulin and glucagon positive cells and 30% insulin and NKX6.1 co-expressing cells. Functionally, ES-DBCs were responsive to high glucose in static incubation and perifusion studies, and could secrete insulin in response to successive glucose stimulations. Mitochondrial metabolic flux analyses using Seahorse demonstrated that the ES-DBCs could efficiently metabolize glucose and generate intracellular signals to trigger insulin secretion. In conclusion, targeting selected signaling pathways for 25±30 days was sufficient to generate ES-DBCs in vitro. The ability of ES-DBCs to secrete insulin in response to glucose renders them a promising model for the in vitro screening of drugs, small molecules or genes that may have potential to influence beta-cell function.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0164457
Number of pages24
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

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