The capacity of digit tip regeneration observed both in rodents and humans establishes a foundation for promoting robust regeneration in mammals. However, stimulating regeneration at more proximal levels, such as the middle phalanges (P2) of the adult mouse, remains challenging. Having shown the effectiveness of transplantation of limb progenitor cells in stimulating limb regeneration in Xenopus, we are now applying the cell transplantation approach to the adult mouse. Here we report that both embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived limb progenitor-like cells can promote adult mouse P2 regeneration. We have established a simple and efficient protocol for deriving limb progenitor-like cells from mouse iPSCs. iPSCs are cultured as three-dimensional fibrin bodies, followed by treatment with combinations of Fgf8, CHIR99021, Purmorphamine and SB43542 during differentiation. These iPSC-derived limb progenitor-like cells resemble embryonic limb mesenchyme cells in their expression of limb-related genes. After transplantation, the limb progenitor-like cells can promote adult mouse P2 regeneration, as embryonic limb bud cells do. Our results provide a basis for further developing progenitor cell-based approaches for improving regeneration in the adult mouse limbs.
Keywords: adult; fibrin body; limb progenitor cells; phalange regeneration; transplantation.