Immortalized feeders for the scale-up of human embryonic stem cells in feeder and feeder-free conditions

J Biotechnol. 2006 Mar 9;122(1):130-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2005.09.008. Epub 2005 Oct 17.


Human embryonic stem cells (hESC) are pluripotent cells that proliferate indefinitely in culture, whilst retaining their capacity for differentiation into different cell types. However, hESC cultures require culture in direct contact with feeder cells or conditioned medium (CM) from feeder cells. The most common source of feeders has been primary mouse embryonic fibroblast (MEF). In this study, we immortalized a primary MEF line with the E6 and E7 genes from HPV16. The immortal line, DeltaE-MEF, was able to proliferate beyond 7-9 passages and has an extended lifespan beyond 70 passages. When tested for its ability to support hESC growth, it was found that hESC continue to maintain the undifferentiated morphology for >40 passages both in co-culture with DeltaE-MEF and in feeder-free cultures supplemented with CM from DeltaE-MEF. The cultures also continue to express the pluripotent markers, Oct-4, SSEA-4, Tra-1-60, Tra-1-81, alkaline phosphatase and maintain a normal karyotype. In addition, these hESC formed teratomas when injected into SCID mice. Lastly, we demonstrated the feasibility of scaling-up significant quantities of undifferentiated hESC (>10(8) cells) using DeltaE-MEF in cell factories. The results from this study suggest that immortalized feeders can provide a consistent and reproducible source of feeders for hESC expansion and research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Size
  • Cell Survival
  • Cell-Free System / metabolism*
  • Coculture Techniques / methods*
  • Fibroblasts / cytology*
  • Fibroblasts / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Pilot Projects
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / physiology*