Published online Jan 26, 2014. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v6.i1.11
Revised: October 23, 2013
Accepted: November 2, 2013
Published online: January 26, 2014
Neural cells differentiated from pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), including both embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells, provide a powerful tool for drug screening, disease modeling and regenerative medicine. High-purity oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) and neural progenitor cells (NPCs) have been derived from PSCs recently due to the advancements in understanding the developmental signaling pathways. Extracellular matrices (ECM) have been shown to play important roles in regulating the survival, proliferation, and differentiation of neural cells. To improve the function and maturation of the derived neural cells from PSCs, understanding the effects of ECM over the course of neural differentiation of PSCs is critical. During neural differentiation of PSCs, the cells are sensitive to the properties of natural or synthetic ECMs, including biochemical composition, biomechanical properties, and structural/topographical features. This review summarizes recent advances in neural differentiation of human PSCs into OPCs and NPCs, focusing on the role of ECM in modulating the composition and function of the differentiated cells. Especially, the importance of using three-dimensional ECM scaffolds to simulate the in vivo microenvironment for neural differentiation of PSCs is highlighted. Future perspectives including the immediate applications of PSC-derived neural cells in drug screening and disease modeling are also discussed.
Core tip: Neural cells derived from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), including oligodendrocyte progenitor cells and neural progenitor cells, emerge as an unlimited and physiologically relevant cell source for drug screening, disease modeling, and regenerative medicine. Natural and synthetic extracellular matrices play an important role in regulating neural differentiation, cell migration, and the derived neural cell maturation. Recent advances in neural differentiation of hPSCs on extracellular matrices in 2-D and 3-D systems are reviewed in this paper. The immediate applications of the derived neural cells in drug screening and disease modeling are also discussed.