Functional network integration of embryonic stem cell-derived astrocytes in hippocampal slice cultures

Development. 2003 Nov;130(22):5533-41. doi: 10.1242/dev.00714.


Embryonic stem (ES) cells provide attractive prospects for neural transplantation. So far, grafting strategies in the CNS have focused mainly on neuronal replacement. Employing a slice culture model, we found that ES cell-derived glial precursors (ESGPs) possess a remarkable capacity to integrate into the host glial network. Following deposition on the surface of hippocampal slices, ESGPs actively migrate into the recipient tissue and establish extensive cell-cell contacts with recipient glia. Gap junction-mediated coupling between donor and host astrocytes permits widespread delivery of dye from single donor cells. During maturation, engrafted donor cells display morphological, immunochemical and electrophysiological properties that are characteristic of differentiating native glia. Our findings provide the first evidence of functional integration of grafted astrocytes, and depict glial network integration as a potential route for widespread transcellular delivery of small molecules to the CNS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Gap Junctions / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mice
  • Neuroglia / metabolism
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques