Feeder-free differentiation of cells exhibiting characteristics of corneal endothelium from human induced pluripotent stem cells

Biol Open. 2018 May 8;7(5):bio032102. doi: 10.1242/bio.032102.


The purpose of this study was to devise a strategy for the derivation of corneal endothelial cells (CEnCs) from adult fibroblast-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). IPSCs were generated from an adult human with normal ocular history via expression of OCT4, SOX2, KLF4 and c-MYC Neural crest cells (NCCs) were differentiated from iPSCs via addition of CHIR99021 and SB4315542. NCCs were driven toward a CEnC fate via addition of B27, PDGF-BB and DKK-2 to CEnC media. Differentiation of NCCs and CEnCs was evaluated via rt-PCR, morphological and immunocytochemical analysis. At 17 days post-NCC induction, there were notable changes in cell morphology and upregulation of the neural crest lineage transcripts PAX3, SOX9, TFAP2A, SOX10 and p75NTR and the proteins p75/NGFR and SOX10. Exposure of NCCs to B27, PDGF-BB and DKK-2 induced a shift in morphology from a spindle-shaped neural phenotype to a tightly-packed hexagonal appearance and increased expression of the transcripts ATP1A1, COL8A1, COL8A2, AQP1 and CDH2 and the proteins ZO-1, N-Cad, AQP-1 and Na+/K+ATPase. Replacement of NCC media with CEnC media on day 3, 5 or 8 reduced the differentiation time needed to yield CEnCs. IPSC-derived CEnCs could be used for evaluation of cornea endothelial disease pathophysiology and for testing of novel therapeutics.

Keywords: Corneal endothelial cells; Differentiation; Induced pluripotent stem cells; Neural crest cells.