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  1. Abstract

    Human cerebral organoids derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) provide novel tools for recapitulating the cytoarchitecture of human brain and for studying biological mechanisms of neurological disorders. However, the heterotypic interactions of neurovascular units, composed of neurons, pericytes, astrocytes, and brain microvascular endothelial cells, in brain-like tissues are less investigated. The objective of this study is to investigate the impacts of neural spheroids and vascular spheroids interactions on the regional brain-like tissue patterning in cortical spheroids derived from human iPSCs. Hybrid neurovascular spheroids were constructed by fusion of human iPSC-derived cortical neural progenitor cell (iNPC) spheroids, endothelial cell (iEC) spheroids, and the supporting human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Single hybrid spheroids were constructed at different iNPC: iEC: MSC ratios of 4:2:0, 3:2:1 2:2:2, and 1:2:3 in low-attachment 96-well plates. The incorporation of MSCs upregulated the secretion levels of cytokines VEGF-A, PGE2, and TGF-β1 in hybrid spheroid system. In addition, tri-cultured spheroids had high levels of TBR1 (deep cortical layer VI) and Nkx2.1 (ventral cells), and matrix remodeling genes, MMP2 and MMP3, as well as Notch-1, indicating the crucial role of matrix remodeling and cell-cell communications on cortical spheroid and organoid patterning. Moreover, tri-culture system elevated blood-brain barrier gene expression (e.g., GLUT-1), CD31, and tight junction protein ZO1 expression. Treatment with AMD3100, a CXCR4 antagonist, showed the immobilization of MSCs during spheroid fusion, indicating a CXCR4-dependent manner of hMSC migration and homing. This forebrain-like model has potential applications in understanding heterotypic cell-cell interactions and novel drug screening in diseased human brain.

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