A Novel Three-Dimensional Culture System for Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells

Stem Cells Dev. 2017 Jul 15;26(14):1078-1085. doi: 10.1089/scd.2016.0306. Epub 2017 May 24.


Oligodendrocytes are generated from oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs). Mechanisms of OPC differentiation have been extensively examined with two-dimensional cell culture systems. However, these cellular events may be more accurately represented using a three-dimensional (3D) model. In this study, we report the development of a novel 3D OPC culture system using gels composed of a mixture of collagen and hyaluronan, wherein cultured rat primary OPCs can proliferate and differentiate into oligodendrocytes. Our data show that the gel concentration and cell-seeding density are critical factors for the numbers of OPCs and oligodendrocytes in our 3D culture system. In addition, Notch signaling, which supports cell-to-cell communication, may also be important for OPC function in our system because a Notch inhibitor DAPT suppressed OPC proliferation and differentiation. Taken together, cultured rat OPCs can grow in collagen-/hyaluronan-based gels, and our novel 3D OPC culture system may offer a useful platform for examining the mechanisms of OPC function in vitro.

Keywords: 3D culture; Notch signaling; astrocyte; cell–cell interaction; oligodendrocyte precursor cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / cytology
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gels
  • Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells / cytology*
  • Oligodendrocyte Precursor Cells / metabolism
  • Porosity
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Notch / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction


  • Gels
  • Receptors, Notch