Motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are primarily characterized by motor neuron degeneration with additional involvement of non-neuronal cells, in particular, microglia. In previous work, we have established protocols for the differentiation of iPSC-derived spinal motor neurons and microglia. Here, we combine both cell lineages and establish a novel co-culture of iPSC-derived spinal motor neurons and microglia, which is compatible with motor neuron identity and function. Co-cultured microglia express key identity markers and transcriptomically resemble primary human microglia, have highly dynamic ramifications, are phagocytically competent, release relevant cytokines and respond to stimulation. Further, they express key amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-associated genes and release disease-relevant biomarkers. This novel and authentic human model system facilitates the study of physiological motor neuron-microglia crosstalk and will allow the investigation of non-cell-autonomous phenotypes in motor neuron diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
© 2022. The Author(s).