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Open Access A Simplified In Vitro Teratoma Assay for Pluripotent Stem Cells Injected Into Rodent Fetal Organs

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Teratoma formation assays are established methods for evaluating the pluripotency of embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. Teratoma formation in immunodeficient mice takes approximately 2 months. Here, we have developed a novel assay system for developing teratomas in vitro from ES cells and iPS cells in a short period. In vitro culture of ES, iPS, and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in fetal rat metanephroi for 1 week resulted in distinct cell-dependent distribution patterns: Pluripotent cells (ES and iPS cells) formed aggregated masses, whereas MSCs showed disseminated distribution. The aggregated masses that had developed from ES cells and iPS cells after 2 weeks of culture comprised teratomas, though they were largely composed of immature components. Furthermore, in vitro organ culture for 1 week followed by relay transplantation into immunodeficient mice resulted in considerably rapid growing teratomas (teratomas developed in 4 weeks) having similar pathological features as of the teratomas developed using conventional 7-week in vivo teratoma formation assays. In addition, the initial cell number required in the in vitro assay was 1 × 103 cells, which was about 1% of the number of cells required in the conventional in vivo teratoma formation assays. These results suggest that the in vitro teratoma assay is a rapid and convenient screening system and might be an alternative method for developing teratomas for investigating the pluripotency of ES cells and iPS cells.
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Keywords: ES cells; Fetal rat metanephros; Organ culture; Teratoma formation; iPS cells

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2012

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