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  1. Abstract

    Auxetic materials are the materials that can display negative Poisson's ratio that describes the degree to which a material contracts (or expands) transversally when axially strained. Human stem cells sense the mechanical properties of the microenvironment, including material surface properties, stiffness, and Poisson's ratio. In this study, six different auxetic polyurethane (PU) foams with different elastic modulus (0.7–1.8 kPa) and Poisson's ratio (−0.1 to −0.5) are used to investigate lineage specification of human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). The surfaces of the foams are modified with chitosan or heparin to enhance the adhesion and proliferation of hiPSCs. Then, the vascular and neural differentiation of hiPSCs are investigated on different foams with distinct elastic modulus and Poisson's ratio. With different auxetic foams, cells show differential adherent density and differentiation capacity. Chitosan and heparin surface functionalization promote the hindbrain and hippocampal markers, but not forebrain markers during neural patterning of hiPSCs. Properly surface engineered auxetic scaffolds can also promote vascular differentiation of hiPSCs. This study represents a versatile and multifunctional scaffold fabrication approach and can lead to a suitable system for establishing hiPSC culture models in applications of neurovascular disease modeling and drug screening.

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  2. Abstract

    Human cerebellum consists of high density and complexity of neurons. Thus, it is challenging to differentiate cerebellar-like organoids with similar cellular markers and function to the human brain. Our previous study showed that the combination of retinoic acid (RA), Wingless/integrated (Wnt) activator, and Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) activator promotes cerebellar differentiation from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs). This study examined phenotypic, metabolic, and biogenesis in early cerebellar development. Cerebellum spheroids were differentiated from human iPSK3 cells. During day 7–14, RA and Wnt activator CHIR99021 were used and SHH activator purmorphamine (PMR) was added later to promote ventralization. Gene expression for early cerebellar layer markers, metabolism, and extracellular vesicle (EV) biogenesis were characterized. Zinc-induced neurotoxicity was investigated as a proof-of-concept of neurotoxicity study. Flow cytometry results showed that there was no significant difference in NEPH3, PTF1A, OLIG2, and MATH1 protein expression between RCP (RA-CHIR-PMR) versus the control condition. However, the expression of cerebellar genes for the molecular layer (BHLE22), the granule cell layer (GABRB2,PAX6,TMEM266,KCNIP4), the Bergmann glial cells (QK1,DAO), and the Purkinje cell layer (ARHGEF33,KIT,MX1,MYH10,PPP1R17,SCGN) was significantly higher in the RCP condition than the control. The shift in metabolic pathways toward glycolysis was observed for RCP condition. The EV biogenesis marker expression was retained. Mild zinc-induced neurotoxicity may exist when zinc exposure exceeds 1.0 µM. RCP treatment can promote specific cerebellar-like differentiation from hiPSCs indicated by gene expression of early cerebellar markers and regionally enriched genes. The higher cerebellar marker expression is accompanied by the elevated glycolysis with the retained EV biogenesis. This study should advance the understanding of biomarkers during early cerebellar development for cerebellum organoid engineering and neurotoxicity study.

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  3. Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2025
  4. Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  5. The choroid plexus (ChP) is a complex structure in the human brain that is responsible for the secretion of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and forming the blood–CSF barrier (B-CSF-B). Human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) have shown promising results in the formation of brain organoids in vitro; however, very few studies to date have generated ChP organoids. In particular, no study has assessed the inflammatory response and the extracellular vesicle (EV) biogenesis of hiPSC-derived ChP organoids. In this study, the impacts of Wnt signaling on the inflammatory response and EV biogenesis of ChP organoids derived from hiPSCs was investigated. During days 10–15, bone morphogenetic protein 4 was added along with (+/−) CHIR99021 (CHIR, a small molecule GSK-3β inhibitor that acts as a Wnt agonist). At day 30, the ChP organoids were characterized by immunocytochemistry and flow cytometry for TTR (~72%) and CLIC6 (~20%) expression. Compared to the −CHIR group, the +CHIR group showed an upregulation of 6 out of 10 tested ChP genes, including CLIC6 (2-fold), PLEC (4-fold), PLTP (2–4-fold), DCN (~7-fold), DLK1 (2–4-fold), and AQP1 (1.4-fold), and a downregulation of TTR (0.1-fold), IGFBP7 (0.8-fold), MSX1 (0.4-fold), and LUM (0.2–0.4-fold). When exposed to amyloid beta 42 oligomers, the +CHIR group had a more sensitive response as evidenced by the upregulation of inflammation-related genes such as TNFα, IL-6, and MMP2/9 when compared to the −CHIR group. Developmentally, the EV biogenesis markers of ChP organoids showed an increase over time from day 19 to day 38. This study is significant in that it provides a model of the human B-CSF-B and ChP tissue for the purpose of drug screening and designing drug delivery systems to treat neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and ischemic stroke. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2024
  6. Background: Recently, the in vitro blood–brain barrier (BBB) models derived from human pluripotent stem cells have been given extensive attention in therapeutics due to the implications they have with the health of the central nervous system. It is essential to create an accurate BBB model in vitro in order to better understand the properties of the BBB, and how it can respond to inflammatory stimulation and be passed by targeted or non-targeted cell therapeutics, more specifically extracellular vesicles. Methods: Brain-specific pericytes (iPCs) were differentiated from iPSK3 cells using dual SMAD signaling inhibitors and Wnt activation plus fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF-2). The derived cells were characterized by immunostaining, flow cytometry, and RT-PCR. In parallel, blood vessels organoids were derived using Wnt activation, BMP4, FGF2, VEGF, and SB431542. The organoids were replated and treated with retinoic acid to enhance the blood–brain barrier (BBB) features in the differentiated brain endothelial cells (iECs). Co-culture was performed for iPCs and iECs in the transwell system and 3D microfluidics channels. Results: The derived iPCs expressed common markers PDGFRb and NG2, and brain-specific genes FOXF2 , ABCC9 , KCNJ8 , and ZIC1 . The derived iECs expressed common endothelial cell markers CD31, VE-cadherin, and BBB-associated genes BRCP , GLUT-1 , PGP , ABCC1 , OCLN , and SLC2A1 . The co-culture of the two cell types responded to the stimulation of amyloid β42 oligomers by the upregulation of the expression of TNFa , IL6 , NFKB , Casp3 , SOD2 , and TP53 . The co-culture also showed the property of trans-endothelial electrical resistance. The proof of concept vascularization strategy was demonstrated in a 3D microfluidics-based device. Conclusion: The derived iPCs and iECs have brain-specific properties, and the co-culture of iPCs and iECs provides an in vitro BBB model that show inflammatory response. This study has significance in establishing micro-physiological systems for neurological disease modeling and drug screening. 
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  7. The blood–brain barrier (BBB) is a vital structure for maintaining homeostasis between the blood and the brain in the central nervous system (CNS). Biomolecule exchange, ion balance, nutrition delivery, and toxic molecule prevention rely on the normal function of the BBB. The dysfunction and the dysregulation of the BBB leads to the progression of neurological disorders and neurodegeneration. Therefore, in vitro BBB models can facilitate the investigation for proper therapies. As the demand increases, it is urgent to develop a more efficient and more physiologically relevant BBB model. In this review, the development of the microfluidics platform for the applications in neuroscience is summarized. This article focuses on the characterizations of in vitro BBB models derived from human stem cells and discusses the development of various types of in vitro models. The microfluidics-based system and BBB-on-chip models should provide a better platform for high-throughput drug-screening and targeted delivery. 
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