Human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived vocal fold mucosa mimics development and responses to smoke exposure

Nat Commun. 2019 Sep 24;10(1):4161. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12069-w.


Development of treatments for vocal dysphonia has been inhibited by lack of human vocal fold (VF) mucosa models because of difficulty in procuring VF epithelial cells, epithelial cells' limited proliferative capacity and absence of cell lines. Here we report development of engineered VF mucosae from hiPSC, transfected via TALEN constructs for green fluorescent protein, that mimic development of VF epithelial cells in utero. Modulation of FGF signaling achieves stratified squamous epithelium from definitive and anterior foregut derived cultures. Robust culturing of these cells on collagen-fibroblast constructs produces three-dimensional models comparable to in vivo VF mucosa. Furthermore, we demonstrate mucosal inflammation upon exposure of these constructs to 5% cigarette smoke extract. Upregulation of pro-inflammatory genes in epithelium and fibroblasts leads to aberrant VF mucosa remodeling. Collectively, our results demonstrate that hiPSC-derived VF mucosa is a versatile tool for future investigation of genetic and molecular mechanisms underlying epithelium-fibroblasts interactions in health and disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Endoderm / physiology
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Genome
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Mucous Membrane / growth & development*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Tissue Engineering
  • Vocal Cords / growth & development*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors