3D Bone-Like Tissues Grown From Stem Cells

Researchers have generated 3D bone-like tissue using pluripotent stem cells, demonstrating the potential of regenerative medicine.

AsianScientist (June 28, 2017) – Researchers at the University of Tokyo have developed a cell culture method that generates three-dimensional bone-like tissues from mouse pluripotent stem cells using only small molecules as inducers. The current result, published in Science Advances, is a step toward the generation of three-dimensional tissues in cell culture which mimic or are patterned after our organs.

Three-dimensional tissue-like structures, called organoids, are generated in cell culture using various cell types derived from pluripotent stem cells. These include embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells—cells reprogrammed to act like embryonic stem cells, which can differentiate into most cell types. Our understanding of tissue formation processes, regenerative medicine and drug development stand to benefit from the study and development of such organoids.

However, most studies to date involve cell-to-cell transfer of genetic material, recombinant proteins, the sera of calf fetuses and other substances of unknown composition, which raise safety and cost concerns.

In 2014, a group led by Associate Professor Shinsuke Ohba at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Medicine developed a protocol that used only four small molecules to induce the formation of bone-forming cells (osteoblasts) from pluripotent stem cells. Building on this protocol in the present study, Ohba and his colleague, Professor Ung-il Chung (Yuichi Tei), succeeded in generating three-dimensional bone-like tissues from mouse pluripotent stem cells embedded within sponges composed of atelocollagen—collagen molecules that do not trigger an immune response. These mouse pluripotent stem cells generated osteoblasts and osteocytes (mature bone cells).

In addition, when these stem cell-derived osteoblasts and osteocytes were cultured with progenitors of osteoclasts (bone-resorbing cells) in the sponge, mature osteoclasts were formed. These results suggested that the osteoblasts and osteocytes derived from mouse embryonic stem cells are functional, as they are in living bodies, with the ability to support osteoclast formation.

“This research potentially leads to the generation of bone-like tissues in cell culture, in which three cell populations responsible for the formation and maintenance of our bones, namely osteoblasts, osteocytes, and osteoclasts, function in a three-dimensional manner,” said Ohba.

“We hope the strategy will contribute to our understanding of the origin and development of bone diseases, and help elucidate the mechanisms underlying the formation and maintenance of bones, as well as promote bone regenerative medicine and the development of drugs for treating bone diseases.”

The article can be found at: Zujur et al. (2017) Three-dimensional System Enabling the Maintenance and Directed Differentiation of Pluripotent Stem Cells under Defined Condition.


Source: University of Tokyo.
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