Neural differentiation of pluripotent cells in 3D alginate-based cultures
Biomaterial-supported culture methods, allowing for directed three-dimensional differentiation of stem cells are an alternative to canonical two-dimensional cell cultures. In this paper, we evaluate the suitability of alginate for three-dimensional cultures to enhance differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs) towards neural lineages. We tested whether encapsulation of mESCs within alginate beads could support and/or enhance neural differentiation with respect to two-dimensional cultures. We encapsulated cells in beads of alginate with or without modification by fibronectin (Fn) or hyaluronic acid (HA). Gene expression analysis showed that cells grown in alginate and alginate-HA present increased differentiation toward neural lineages with respect to the two-dimensional control and to Fn group. Immunocytochemistry analyses confirmed these results, further showing terminal differentiation of neurons as seen by the expression of synaptic markers and markers of different neuronal subtypes. Our data show that alginate, alone or modified, is a suitable biomaterial to promote in vitro differentiation of pluripotent cells toward neural fates.
Journal: Biomaterials - Volume 35, Issue 16, May 2014, Pages 4636–4645