Human sensorimotor organoids derived from healthy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis stem cells form neuromuscular junctions

Nat Commun. 2021 Aug 6;12(1):4744. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-24776-4.


Human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) hold promise for modeling diseases in individual human genetic backgrounds and thus for developing precision medicine. Here, we generate sensorimotor organoids containing physiologically functional neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) and apply the model to different subgroups of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Using a range of molecular, genomic, and physiological techniques, we identify and characterize motor neurons and skeletal muscle, along with sensory neurons, astrocytes, microglia, and vasculature. Organoid cultures derived from multiple human iPSC lines generated from individuals with ALS and isogenic lines edited to harbor familial ALS mutations show impairment at the level of the NMJ, as detected by both contraction and immunocytochemical measurements. The physiological resolution of the human NMJ synapse, combined with the generation of major cellular cohorts exerting autonomous and non-cell autonomous effects in motor and sensory diseases, may prove valuable to understand the pathophysiological mechanisms of ALS.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / genetics
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology
  • Astrocytes
  • Gene Editing
  • Humans
  • Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
  • Motor Neurons
  • Muscle Cells
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Mutation
  • Neuromuscular Junction / metabolism*
  • Organoids / pathology
  • Organoids / physiology*
  • Stem Cells