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      Efficient differentiation of human embryonic stem cells to retinal pigment epithelium under defined conditions


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          Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a highly prevalent form of blindness caused by loss death of cells of the retinal pigment epithelium (RPE). Transplantation of pluripotent stem cell (PSC)-derived RPE cells is considered a promising therapy to regenerate cell function and vision.


          The objective of this study is to develop a rapid directed differentiation method for production of RPE cells from PSC which is rapid, efficient, and fully defined and produces cells suitable for clinical use.


          A protocol for cell growth and differentiation from hESCs was developed to induce differentiation through screening small molecules which regulated a primary stage of differentiation to the eyefield progenitor, and then, a subsequent set of molecules to drive differentiation to RPE cells. Methods for cell plating and maintenance have been optimized to give a homogeneous population of cells in a short 14-day period, followed by a procedure to support maturation of cell function.


          We show here the efficient production of RPE cells from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) using small molecules in a feeder-free system using xeno-free/defined medium. Flow cytometry at day 14 showed ~ 90% of cells expressed the RPE markers MITF and PMEL17. Temporal gene analysis confirmed differentiation through defined cell intermediates. Mature hESC-RPE cell monolayers exhibited key morphological, molecular, and functional characteristics of the endogenous RPE.


          This study identifies a novel cell differentiation process for rapid and efficient production of retinal RPE cells directly from hESCs. The described protocol has utility for clinical-grade cell production for human therapy to treat AMD.

          Supplementary Information

          The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1186/s13287-021-02316-7.

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          Most cited references55

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          Global prevalence of age-related macular degeneration and disease burden projection for 2020 and 2040: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

          Numerous population-based studies of age-related macular degeneration have been reported around the world, with the results of some studies suggesting racial or ethnic differences in disease prevalence. Integrating these resources to provide summarised data to establish worldwide prevalence and to project the number of people with age-related macular degeneration from 2020 to 2040 would be a useful guide for global strategies. We did a systematic literature review to identify all population-based studies of age-related macular degeneration published before May, 2013. Only studies using retinal photographs and standardised grading classifications (the Wisconsin age-related maculopathy grading system, the international classification for age-related macular degeneration, or the Rotterdam staging system) were included. Hierarchical Bayesian approaches were used to estimate the pooled prevalence, the 95% credible intervals (CrI), and to examine the difference in prevalence by ethnicity (European, African, Hispanic, Asian) and region (Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, and Oceania). UN World Population Prospects were used to project the number of people affected in 2014 and 2040. Bayes factor was calculated as a measure of statistical evidence, with a score above three indicating substantial evidence. Analysis of 129,664 individuals (aged 30-97 years), with 12,727 cases from 39 studies, showed the pooled prevalence (mapped to an age range of 45-85 years) of early, late, and any age-related macular degeneration to be 8.01% (95% CrI 3.98-15.49), 0.37% (0.18-0.77), and 8.69% (4.26-17.40), respectively. We found a higher prevalence of early and any age-related macular degeneration in Europeans than in Asians (early: 11.2% vs 6.8%, Bayes factor 3.9; any: 12.3% vs 7.4%, Bayes factor 4.3), and early, late, and any age-related macular degeneration to be more prevalent in Europeans than in Africans (early: 11.2% vs 7.1%, Bayes factor 12.2; late: 0.5% vs 0.3%, 3.7; any: 12.3% vs 7.5%, 31.3). There was no difference in prevalence between Asians and Africans (all Bayes factors <1). Europeans had a higher prevalence of geographic atrophy subtype (1.11%, 95% CrI 0.53-2.08) than Africans (0.14%, 0.04-0.45), Asians (0.21%, 0.04-0.87), and Hispanics (0.16%, 0.05-0.46). Between geographical regions, cases of early and any age-related macular degeneration were less prevalent in Asia than in Europe and North America (early: 6.3% vs 14.3% and 12.8% [Bayes factor 2.3 and 7.6]; any: 6.9% vs 18.3% and 14.3% [3.0 and 3.8]). No significant gender effect was noted in prevalence (Bayes factor <1.0). The projected number of people with age-related macular degeneration in 2020 is 196 million (95% CrI 140-261), increasing to 288 million in 2040 (205-399). These estimates indicate the substantial global burden of age-related macular degeneration. Summarised data provide information for understanding the effect of the condition and provide data towards designing eye-care strategies and health services around the world. National Medical Research Council, Singapore. Copyright © 2014 Wong et al. Open Access article distributed under the terms of CC BY-NC-ND. Published by .. All rights reserved.
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            Highly efficient neural conversion of human ES and iPS cells by dual inhibition of SMAD signaling

            Current neural induction protocols in human ES cells (hESCs) rely on embryoid body formation, stromal feeder co-culture, or selective survival conditions; each strategy displaying significant drawbacks such as poorly defined culture conditions, protracted differentiation and low yield. Here we report that the synergistic action of two inhibitors of SMAD signaling, Noggin and SB431542, is sufficient for inducing rapid and complete neural conversion of hESCs under adherent culture conditions. Temporal fate analysis reveals a transient FGF5+ epiblast-like stage followed by PAX6+ neural cells competent of rosette formation. Initial cell density determines the ratio of CNS versus neural crest progeny. Directed differentiation of human iPSCs into midbrain dopamine and spinal motoneurons confirm robustness and general applicability of the novel induction protocol. Noggin/SB431542 based neural induction should greatly facilitate the use of hESC and hiPSCs in regenerative medicine and disease modeling and obviate the need for stromal feeder or embryoid body based protocols.
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              Age-related macular degeneration

              Age-related macular degeneration is a leading cause of visual impairment and severe vision loss. Clinically, it is classified as early-stage (medium-sized drusen and retinal pigmentary changes) to late-stage (neovascular and atrophic). Age-related macular degeneration is a multifactorial disorder, with dysregulation in the complement, lipid, angiogenic, inflammatory, and extracellular matrix pathways implicated in its pathogenesis. More than 50 genetic susceptibility loci have been identified, of which the most important are in the CFH and ARMS2 genes. The major non-genetic risk factors are smoking and low dietary intake of antioxidants (zinc and carotenoids). Progression from early-stage to late-stage disease can be slowed with high-dose zinc and antioxidant vitamin supplements. Intravitreal anti-vascular endothelial growth factor therapy (eg, ranibizumab, aflibercept, or bevacizumab) is highly effective at treating neovascular age-related macular degeneration, and has markedly decreased the prevalence of visual impairment in populations worldwide. Currently, no proven therapies for atrophic disease are available, but several agents are being investigated in clinical trials. Future progress is likely to be from improved efforts in prevention and risk-factor modification, personalised medicine targeting specific pathways, newer anti-vascular endothelial growth factor agents or other agents, and regenerative therapies.

                Author and article information

                Stem Cell Res Ther
                Stem Cell Res Ther
                Stem Cell Research & Therapy
                BioMed Central (London )
                21 April 2021
                21 April 2021
                : 12
                : 248
                GRID grid.1033.1, ISNI 0000 0004 0405 3820, Clem Jones Centre for Regenerative Medicine, , Bond University, ; Gold Coast, Queensland 4229 Australia
                Author information
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Open AccessThis article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

                : 24 January 2021
                : 30 March 2021
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100008763, Clem Jones Foundation;
                Funded by: Cutmore Bequest to Bond University
                Custom metadata
                © The Author(s) 2021

                Molecular medicine
                retinal pigment epithelium,pluripotent stem cells,differentiation,small molecules,age-related macular degeneration


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