Potential clinical applications of neurons derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSC-neurons) for drug screening and transplantation therapies have received considerable attention. However, it remains unclear whether and how transplanted hiPSC-neurons are incorporated into pre-existing neural circuits. Here we developed a co-culture system of hiPSC-neurons and mouse hippocampal slices to examine the differentiation of hiPSC-neurons in pre-existing neural circuits. hiPSC-neurons transplanted in mouse hippocampal slices expressed the hippocampal neuron-specific markers HuB and Prox1 after 7 days of culture, while those markers were scarcely expressed in hiPSC-neurons cultured on glass dishes. Furthermore, hiPSC-neurons transplanted in the dentate gyrus (DG) of slice cultures grew to exhibit dentate granule cell-like morphologies, including besom-shaped dendrites. Similarly, hiPSC-neurons transplanted in the CA1 region of slice cultures grew to exhibit CA1 pyramidal cell-like morphologies, including primary apical and multiple basal dendrites with synaptic spines. Additionally, these cells projected axons toward the entorhinal cortex (EC) as observed in vivo. These data suggest that hiPSC-neurons were anatomically integrated into pre-existing neural circuits in a region-specific manner. Thus, the co-culture system will be useful for the study of efficient strategies to differentiate transplanted hiPSC-neurons.
Keywords: hippocampus; iPS cells; neural differentiation; slice culture; transplantation.