Neurogenic neuroepithelial and radial glial cells generated from six human embryonic stem cell lines in serum-free suspension and adherent cultures

Glia. 2007 Mar;55(4):385-99. doi: 10.1002/glia.20463.


The great potential of human embryonic stem (hES) cells offers the opportunity both for studying basic developmental processes in vitro as well as for drug screening, modeling diseases, or future cell therapy. Defining protocols for the generation of human neural progenies represents a most important prerequisite. Here, we have used six hES cell lines to evaluate defined conditions for neural differentiation in suspension and adherent culture systems. Our protocol does not require fetal serum, feeder cells, or retinoic acid at any step, to induce neural fate decisions in hES cells. We monitored neurogenesis in differentiating cultures using morphological (including on-line follow up), immunocytochemical, and RT-PCR assays. For each hES cell line, in suspension or adherent culture, the same longitudinal progression of neural differentiation occurs. We showed the dynamic transitions from hES cells to neuroepithelial (NE) cells, to radial glial (RG) cells, and to neurons. Thus, 7 days after neural induction the majority of cells were NE, expressing nestin, Sox1, and Pax6. During neural proliferation and differentiation, NE cells transformed in RG cells, which acquired vimentin, BLBP, GLAST, and GFAP, proliferated and formed radial scaffolds. gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA)-positive and glutamate positive neurons, few oligodendrocyte progenitors and astrocytes were formed in our conditions and timing. Our system successfully generates human RG cells and could be an effective source for neuronal replacement, since RG cells predominantly generate neurons and provide them with support and guidance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Adhesion / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Line
  • Culture Media, Serum-Free
  • DNA Primers
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Epithelial Cells / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Neuroglia / physiology*
  • RNA / biosynthesis
  • RNA / isolation & purification
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Culture Media, Serum-Free
  • DNA Primers
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • RNA