Modeling vanishing white matter disease with patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells reveals astrocytic dysfunction

CNS Neurosci Ther. 2019 Jun;25(6):759-771. doi: 10.1111/cns.13107. Epub 2019 Feb 5.


Aims: Vanishing white matter disease (VWM) is an inherited leukoencephalopathy in children attributed to mutations in EIF2B1-5, encoding five subunits of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2B (eIF2B). Although the defects are in the housekeeping genes, glial cells are selectively involved in VWM. Several studies have suggested that astrocytes are central in the pathogenesis of VWM. However, the exact pathomechanism remains unknown, and no model for VWM induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has been established.

Methods: Fibroblasts from two VWM children were reprogrammed into iPSCs by using a virus-free nonintegrating episomal vector system. Control and VWM iPSCs were sequentially differentiated into neural stem cells (NSCs) and then into neural cells, including neurons, oligodendrocytes (OLs), and astrocytes.

Results: Vanishing white matter disease iPSC-derived NSCs can normally differentiate into neurons, oligodendrocytes precursor cells (OPCs), and oligodendrocytes in vitro. By contrast, VWM astrocytes were dysmorphic and characterized by shorter processes. Moreover, δ-GFAP and αB-Crystalline were significantly increased in addition to increased early and total apoptosis.

Conclusion: The results provided further evidence supporting the central role of astrocytic dysfunction. The establishment of VWM-specific iPSC models provides a platform for exploring the pathogenesis of VWM and future drug screening.

Keywords: astrocytes; induced pluripotent stem cells; neural stem cells; neurons; oligodendrocytes; vanishing white matter disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Astrocytes / physiology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Fibroblasts / physiology
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / physiology
  • Leukoencephalopathies / genetics
  • Leukoencephalopathies / pathology
  • Leukoencephalopathies / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Neural Stem Cells / physiology