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  2. Brain spheroids or organoids derived from human pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are still not capable of completely recapitulating in vivo human brain tissue, and one of the limitations is lack of microglia. To add built-in immune function, coculture of the dorsal forebrain spheroids with isogenic microglia-like cells (D-MG) was performed in our study. The three-dimensional D-MG spheroids were analyzed for their transcriptome and compared with isogenic microglia-like cells (MG). Cortical spheroids containing microglia-like cells displayed different metabolic programming, which may affect the associated phenotype. The expression of genes related to glycolysis and hypoxia signaling was increased in cocultured D-MG spheroids, indicating the metabolic shift to aerobic glycolysis, which is in favor of M1 polarization of microglia-like cells. In addition, the metabolic pathways and the signaling pathways involved in cell proliferation, cell death, PIK3/AKT/mTOR signaling, eukaryotic initiation factor 2 pathway, and Wnt and Notch pathways were analyzed. The results demonstrate the activation of mTOR and p53 signaling, increased expression of Notch ligands, and the repression of NF- κ B and canonical Wnt pathways, as well as the lower expression of cell cycle genes in the cocultured D-MG spheroids. This analysis indicates that physiological 3-D microenvironment may reshape the immunity of in vitro cortical spheroids and better recapitulate in vivo brain tissue function for disease modeling and drug screening. 
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  3. The mechanism that causes the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathologies, including amyloid plaque, neurofibrillary tangles, and neuron death, is not well understood due to the lack of robust study models for human brain. Three-dimensional organoid systems based on human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) have shown a promising potential to model neurodegenerative diseases, including AD. These systems, in combination with engineering tools, allow in vitro generation of brain-like tissues that recapitulate complex cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interactions. Brain ECMs play important roles in neural differentiation, proliferation, neuronal network, and AD progression. In this contribution related to brain ECMs, recent advances in modeling AD pathology and progression based on hPSC-derived neural cells, tissues, and brain organoids were reviewed and summarized. In addition, the roles of ECMs in neural differentiation of hPSCs and the influences of heparan sulfate proteoglycans, chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans, and hyaluronic acid on the progression of neurodegeneration were discussed. The advantages that use stem cell-based organoids to study neural degeneration and to investigate the effects of ECM development on the disease progression were highlighted. The contents of this article are significant for understanding cell-matrix interactions in stem cell microenvironment for treating neural degeneration. 
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  4. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) contribute to a variety of signaling processes and the overall physiological and pathological states of stem cells and tissues. Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) have unique characteristics that can mimic embryonic tissue development. There is growing interest in the use of EVs derived from hiPSCs as therapeutics, biomarkers, and drug delivery vehicles. However, little is known about the characteristics of EVs secreted by hiPSCs and paracrine signaling during tissue morphogenesis and lineage specification. Methods: In this study, the physical and biological properties of EVs isolated from hiPSC-derived neural progenitors (ectoderm), hiPSC-derived cardiac cells (mesoderm), and the undifferentiated hiPSCs (healthy iPSK3 and Alzheimer’s-associated SY-UBH lines) were analyzed. Results: Nanoparticle tracking analysis and electron microscopy results indicate that hiPSC-derived EVs have an average size of 100–250 nm. Immunoblot analyses confirmed the enrichment of exosomal markers Alix, CD63, TSG101, and Hsc70 in the purified EV preparations. MicroRNAs including miR-133, miR-155, miR-221, and miR-34a were differently expressed in the EVs isolated from distinct hiPSC lineages. Treatment of cortical spheroids with hiPSC-EVs in vitro resulted in enhanced cell proliferation (indicated by BrdU+ cells) and axonal growth (indicated by β-tubulin III staining). Furthermore, hiPSC-derived EVs exhibited neural protective abilities in Aβ42 oligomer-treated cultures, enhancing cell viability and reducing oxidative stress. Our results demonstrate that the paracrine signaling provided by tissue context-dependent EVs derived from hiPSCs elicit distinct responses to impact the physiological state of cortical spheroids. Overall, this study advances our understanding of cell‒cell communication in the stem cell microenvironment and provides possible therapeutic options for treating neural degeneration. 
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