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Iron-Accelerated Neuronal Differentiation of Human Embryonic Stem Cells


Current methods to differentiate human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) towards neural lineages are predominantly based on costly biochemical reagents and complex physical cues. These existing methods are seriously hindered by extensive time requirements and low yield. However, stem cells use in clinical applications requires the quantity and quality of the cells while remaining cost efficient. Innovative approaches that overcome these current constraints and enhance the successful rate of motor neuron transplantation are in critical demand. Iron, a trace element, is essential for development and function of the central nervous system. The effects of ferric ions on the neuronal differentiation have yet to be shown. We utilize elevated ferric concentrations to drastically curtail the differentiation rate of hESCs, effectively enumerating motor neuron phenotype. This innovative protocol can expedite the generation of motor neurons for regenerative medicine in an economical and time efficient manner. The neuron like derived stem cells with iron expressed increased levels of motor neuron markers HOXB4 and HB9. Furthermore, the iron treatment was able to generate more matured and functional motor-neuron-like cells that are ~1.5 times more sensitive to depolarization when compared to the control. Our method provides an expedited approach to harvest motor-neuron-like cells for disease, traumatic injury regeneration, and drug screening

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