hPSC-derived sacral neural crest enables rescue in a severe model of Hirschsprung's disease

Cell Stem Cell. 2023 Mar 2;30(3):264-282.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2023.02.003.


The enteric nervous system (ENS) is derived from both the vagal and sacral component of the neural crest (NC). Here, we present the derivation of sacral ENS precursors from human PSCs via timed exposure to FGF, WNT, and GDF11, which enables posterior patterning and transition from posterior trunk to sacral NC identity, respectively. Using a SOX2::H2B-tdTomato/T::H2B-GFP dual reporter hPSC line, we demonstrate that both trunk and sacral NC emerge from a double-positive neuro-mesodermal progenitor (NMP). Vagal and sacral NC precursors yield distinct neuronal subtypes and migratory behaviors in vitro and in vivo. Remarkably, xenografting of both vagal and sacral NC lineages is required to rescue a mouse model of total aganglionosis, suggesting opportunities in the treatment of severe forms of Hirschsprung's disease.

Keywords: GDF11; Hirschsprung's disease; axial patterning; axial progenitors; cell therapy; directed differentiation; enteric nervous system; nervous system disorder; neural crest development; pluripotent stem cells; regenerative medicine; sacral neural crest.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Growth Differentiation Factors
  • Heterografts
  • Hirschsprung Disease*
  • Histones
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neural Crest


  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • GDF11 protein, human
  • Growth Differentiation Factors
  • Histones