Concise Review: Assessing the Genome Integrity of Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: What Quality Control Metrics?

Stem Cells. 2018 Jun;36(6):814-821. doi: 10.1002/stem.2797. Epub 2018 Feb 18.


Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) have the potential to differentiate virtually into any cell type in unlimited quantities. Therefore, they are ideal for in vitro tissue modeling or to produce cells for clinical use. Importantly, and differently from immortalized and cancer cell lines, the hiPSC genome scrupulously reproduces that of the cell from which they were derived. However, hiPSCs can develop genetic abnormalities during reprogramming or prolonged cell culture, such as aneuploidies or oncogenic mutations (e.g., in TP53). Therefore, hiPSC genome integrity must be routinely monitored because serious genome alterations would greatly compromise their usefulness or safety of use. Here, we reviewed hiPSC genome quality control monitoring methods and laboratory practice. Indeed, due to their frequency and functional consequences, recurrent genetic defects found in cultured hiPSCs are inacceptable and their appearance should be monitored by routine screening. Hence, for research purposes, we propose that the genome of hiPSC lines should be systematically screened at derivation, at least by karyotyping, and then regularly (every 12 weeks) during experiments, for instance with polymerase chain reaction-based techniques. For some specific applications, such as research on aging, cell cycle, apoptosis or cancer, other tests (e.g., TP53 mutation detection) should also be included. For clinical use, in addition to karyotyping, we advise exome sequencing. Stem Cells 2018;36:814-821.

Keywords: Genetic abnormalities; Induced pluripotent stem cells; Pluripotency; Quality control; Recurrent abnormalities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Genomics / methods*
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Quality Control