Reproducibility and staging of 3D human retinal organoids across multiple pluripotent stem cell lines

Development. 2019 Jan 9;146(1):dev171686. doi: 10.1242/dev.171686.


Numerous protocols have been described for producing neural retina from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), many of which are based on the culture of 3D organoids. Although nearly all such methods yield at least partial segments of retinal structure with a mature appearance, variabilities exist within and between organoids that can change over a protracted time course of differentiation. Adding to this complexity are potential differences in the composition and configuration of retinal organoids when viewed across multiple differentiations and hPSC lines. In an effort to understand better the current capabilities and limitations of these cultures, we generated retinal organoids from 16 hPSC lines and monitored their appearance and structural organization over time by light microscopy, immunocytochemistry, metabolic imaging and electron microscopy. We also employed optical coherence tomography and 3D imaging techniques to assess and compare whole or broad regions of organoids to avoid selection bias. Results from this study led to the development of a practical staging system to reduce inconsistencies in retinal organoid cultures and increase rigor when utilizing them in developmental studies, disease modeling and transplantation.

Keywords: Cell culture; Differentiation; Human pluripotent stem cells; Organoids; Photoreceptors; Retina.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Shape
  • Ependymoglial Cells / cytology
  • Ependymoglial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Interneurons / cytology
  • Interneurons / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Neural Stem Cells / cytology
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Organoids / cytology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Pluripotent Stem Cells / ultrastructure
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retina / cytology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / metabolism
  • Synapses / metabolism
  • Tomography, Optical Coherence