Postmortem Human Dura Mater Cells Exhibit Phenotypic, Transcriptomic and Genetic Abnormalities that Impact their Use for Disease Modeling

Stem Cell Rev Rep. 2022 Dec;18(8):3050-3065. doi: 10.1007/s12015-022-10416-x. Epub 2022 Jul 9.


Patient-derived cells hold great promise for precision medicine approaches in human health. Human dermal fibroblasts have been a major source of cells for reprogramming and differentiating into specific cell types for disease modeling. Postmortem human dura mater has been suggested as a primary source of fibroblasts for in vitro modeling of neurodegenerative diseases. Although fibroblast-like cells from human and mouse dura mater have been previously described, their utility for reprogramming and direct differentiation protocols has not been fully established. In this study, cells derived from postmortem dura mater are directly compared to those from dermal biopsies of living subjects. In two instances, we have isolated and compared dermal and dural cell lines from the same subject. Notably, striking differences were observed between cells of dermal and dural origin. Compared to dermal fibroblasts, postmortem dura mater-derived cells demonstrated different morphology, slower growth rates, and a higher rate of karyotype abnormality. Dura mater-derived cells also failed to express fibroblast protein markers. When dermal fibroblasts and dura mater-derived cells from the same subject were compared, they exhibited highly divergent gene expression profiles that suggest dura mater cells originated from a mixed mural lineage. Given their postmortem origin, somatic mutation signatures of dura mater-derived cells were assessed and suggest defective DNA damage repair. This study argues for rigorous karyotyping of postmortem derived cell lines and highlights limitations of postmortem human dura mater-derived cells for modeling normal biology or disease-associated pathobiology.

Keywords: Biobanking; Chromosomal karyotype; Dermal epithelium; Dermal fibroblasts; Dural cells; Human dura mater; Loss of Y chromosome; Mural cells; Neurodegenerative disease; Postmortem tissue.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dura Mater* / metabolism
  • Dura Mater* / pathology
  • Fibroblasts
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Transcriptome*