Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) are a promising cell source for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, especially in the field of neurobiology. Neural differentiation protocols have been developed to differentiate hPSCs into specific neural cells, but these predominantly rely on biochemical cues. Recently, differentiation protocols have incorporated topographical cues to increase the total neuronal yield. However, the means by which these topographical cues improve neuronal yield remains unknown. In this study, we explored the effect of topography on the neural differentiation of hPSC by quantitatively studying the changes in marker expression at a transcript and protein level. We found that 2 μm gratings increase the rate of neural differentiation, and that an additional culture period of 2 μm gratings in the absence of neurotrophic signals can improve the neural differentiation of hPSCs. We envisage that this work can be incorporated into future differentiation protocols to decrease the differentiation period as well as the biochemical signals added, thus generating hPSC-derived neural cells in a more cost effective and efficient manner.
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