We have systematically developed single cell-inoculated suspension cultures of human embryonic stem cells (hESC) in defined media. Cell survival was dependent on hESC re-aggregation. In the presence of the Rho kinase inhibitor Y-27632 (Ri) only approximately 44% of the seeded cells were rescued, but an optimized heat shock treatment combined with Ri significantly increased cell survival to approximately 60%. Mechanistically, our data suggest that E-cadherin plays a role in hESC aggregation and that dissociation and re-aggregation upon passaging functions as a purification step towards a pluripotency markers-enriched population. Mass expansion of hESC was readily achieved by up-scaling 2 ml cultures to serial passaging in 50 ml spinner flasks. A media comparison revealed that mTeSR was superior to KnockOut-SR in supporting cell proliferation and pluripotency. Persistent expression of pluripotency markers was achieved for two lines (hES2, hES3) that were used at higher passages (>86). In contrast, rapid down regulation of Oct4, Tra-1-60, and SSEA4 was observed for ESI049, a clinically compliant line, used at passages 20-36. The up-scaling strategy has significant potential to provide pluripotent cells on a clinical scale. Nevertheless, our data also highlights a significant line-to-line variability and the need for a critical assessment of novel methods with numerous relevant cell lines.
Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.