A fully defined and scalable 3D culture system for human pluripotent stem cell expansion and differentiation.

Abstract

Human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs), including human embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells, are promising for numerous biomedical applications, such as cell replacement therapies, tissue and whole-organ engineering, and high-throughput pharmacology and toxicology screening. Each of these applications requires large numbers of cells of high quality; however, the scalable expansion and differentiation of hPSCs, especially for clinical utilization, remains a challenge. We report a simple, defined, efficient, scalable, and good manufacturing practice-compatible 3D culture system for hPSC expansion and differentiation. It employs a thermoresponsive hydrogel that combines easy manipulation and completely defined conditions, free of any human- or animal-derived factors, and entailing only recombinant protein factors. Under an optimized protocol, the 3D system enables long-term, serial expansion of multiple hPSCs lines with a high expansion rate (~20-fold per 5-d passage, for a 10(72)-fold expansion over 280 d), yield (~2.0 × 10(7) cells per mL of hydrogel), and purity (~95% Oct4+), even with single-cell inoculation, all of which offer considerable advantages relative to current approaches. Moreover, the system enabled 3D directed differentiation of hPSCs into multiple lineages, including dopaminergic neuron progenitors with a yield of ~8 × 10(7) dopaminergic progenitors per mL of hydrogel and ~80-fold expansion by the end of a 15-d derivation. This versatile system may be useful at numerous scales, from basic biological investigation to clinical development.

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