Assessment of Developmental Toxicants using Human Embryonic Stem Cells

Toxicol Res. 2013 Dec 31;29(4):221-7. doi: 10.5487/TR.2013.29.4.221.


Embryonic stem (ES) cells have potential for use in evaluation of developmental toxicity because they are generated in large numbers and differentiate into three germ layers following formation of embryoid bodies (EBs). In earlier study, embryonic stem cell test (EST) was established for assessment of the embryotoxic potential of compounds. Using EBs indicating the onset of differentiation of mouse ES cells, many toxicologists have refined the developmental toxicity of a variety of compounds. However, due to some limitation of the EST method resulting from species-specific differences between humans and mouse, it is an incomplete approach. In this regard, we examined the effects of several developmental toxic chemicals on formation of EBs using human ES cells. Although human ES cells are fastidious in culture and differentiation, we concluded that the relevancy of our experimental method is more accurate than that of EST using mouse ES cells. These types of studies could extend our understanding of how human ES cells could be used for monitoring developmental toxicity and its relevance in relation to its differentiation progress. In addition, this concept will be used as a model system for screening for developmental toxicity of various chemicals. This article might update new information about the usage of embryonic stem cells in the context of their possible ability in the toxicological fields.

Keywords: Developmental toxicity; Differentiation; Embryoid body; Embryonic stem cells.

Publication types

  • Review