Research ArticleCELL BIOLOGY

Three-dimensional system enabling the maintenance and directed differentiation of pluripotent stem cells under defined conditions

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Science Advances  12 May 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 5, e1602875
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602875


The development of in vitro models for the maintenance and differentiation of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) is an active area of stem cell research. The strategies used so far are based mainly on two-dimensional (2D) cultures, in which cellular phenotypes are regulated by soluble factors. We show that a 3D culture system with atelocollagen porous scaffolds can significantly improve the outcome of the current platforms intended for the maintenance and lineage specification of mouse PSCs (mPSCs). Unlike 2D conditions, the 3D conditions maintained the undifferentiated state of mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) without exogenous stimulation and also supported endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm differentiation of mESCs under serum-free conditions. Moreover, 3D mPSC–derived mesodermal cells showed accelerated osteogenic differentiation, giving rise to functional osteoblast-osteocyte populations within calcified structures. The present strategy offers a 3D platform suitable for the formation of organoids that mimic in vivo organs containing various cell types, and it may be adaptable to the generation of ectoderm-, mesoderm-, and endoderm-derived tissues when combined with appropriate differentiation treatments.

  • pluripotent stem cell
  • three-dimensional culture
  • organoid
  • bone
  • osteoblast

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