Recapitulation of Human Neural Microenvironment Signatures in iPSC-Derived NPC 3D Differentiation

Stem Cell Reports. 2018 Aug 14;11(2):552-564. doi: 10.1016/j.stemcr.2018.06.020.


Brain microenvironment plays an important role in neurodevelopment and pathology, where the extracellular matrix (ECM) and soluble factors modulate multiple cellular processes. Neural cell culture typically relies on heterologous matrices poorly resembling brain ECM. Here, we employed neurospheroids to address microenvironment remodeling during neural differentiation of human stem cells, without the confounding effects of exogenous matrices. Proteome and transcriptome dynamics revealed significant changes at cell membrane and ECM during 3D differentiation, diverging significantly from the 2D differentiation. Structural proteoglycans typical of brain ECM were enriched during 3D differentiation, in contrast to basement membrane constituents in 2D. Moreover, higher expression of synaptic and ion transport machinery was observed in 3D cultures, suggesting higher neuronal maturation in neurospheroids. This work demonstrates that 3D neural differentiation as neurospheroids promotes the expression of cellular and extracellular features found in neural tissue, highlighting its value to address molecular defects in cell-ECM interactions associated with neurological disorders.

Keywords: 3D culture; ECM; hiPSC; microenvironment; neural cell models; neural differentiation; neural progenitors; neurospheroids; proteomics; transcriptomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cellular Microenvironment*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway
  • beta Catenin / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • beta Catenin