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Neurons derived from reprogrammed fibroblasts functionally integrate into the fetal brain and improve symptoms of rats with Parkinson's disease

  1. Marius Wernig *,
  2. Jian-Ping Zhao ? ,
  3. Jan Pruszak ? ,
  4. Eva Hedlund ? ,
  5. Dongdong Fu *,
  6. Frank Soldner *,
  7. Vania Broccoli § ,
  8. Martha Constantine-Paton ? ,
  9. Ole Isacson ? , and
  10. Rudolf Jaenisch * , ? ,
  1. *The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Cambridge, MA 02142;
  2. ?The McGovern Institute for Brain Research and
  3. ?Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139;
  4. ?Udall Parkinson's Disease Research Center of Excellence and Neuroregeneration Laboratories, McLean Hospital/Harvard University, Belmont, MA 02478; and
  5. §San Raffaele Scientific Institute, 20132 Milan, Italy
  1. Contributed by Rudolf Jaenisch, February 21, 2008 (received for review January 21, 2008)

Abstract

The long-term goal of nuclear transfer or alternative reprogramming approaches is to create patient-specific donor cells for transplantation therapy, avoiding immunorejection, a major complication in current transplantation medicine. It was recently shown that the four transcription factors Oct4, Sox2, Klf4, and c-Myc induce pluripotency in mouse fibroblasts. However, the therapeutic potential of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells for neural cell replacement strategies remained unexplored. Here, we show that iPS cells can be efficiently differentiated into neural precursor cells, giving rise to neuronal and glial cell types in culture. Upon transplantation into the fetal mouse brain, the cells migrate into various brain regions and differentiate into glia and neurons, including glutamatergic, GABAergic, and catecholaminergic subtypes. Electrophysiological recordings and morphological analysis demonstrated that the grafted neurons had mature neuronal activity and were functionally integrated in the host brain. Furthermore, iPS cells were induced to differentiate into dopamine neurons of midbrain character and were able to improve behavior in a rat model of Parkinson's disease upon transplantation into the adult brain. We minimized the risk of tumor formation from the grafted cells by separating contaminating pluripotent cells and committed neural cells using fluorescence-activated cell sorting. Our results demonstrate the therapeutic potential of directly reprogrammed fibroblasts for neuronal cell replacement in the animal model.

Footnotes

  • To whom correspondence should be addressed at:
    The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, 9 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142.
    E-mail: jaenisch{at}wi.mit.edu
  • Author contributions: J.-P.Z. and J.P. contributed equally to this work; M.W., O.I., and R.J. designed research; M.W., J.-P.Z., J.P., E.H., D.F., F.S., and V.B. performed research; M.W., J.-P.Z., J.P., E.H., D.F., M.C.-P., and O.I. analyzed data; and M.W., M.C.-P., O.I., and R.J. wrote the paper.

  • The authors declare no conflict of interest.

  • This article contains supporting information online at www.danielhellerman.com/cgi/content/full/0801677105/DCSupplemental.

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