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One-Step Induction of Neurons From Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells in Serum-Free Media Containing Vitamin B12 and Heparin

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We present a simple method for neural cell fate specification directly from mouse embryonic stem cells (ES cells) in serum-free conditions in the absence of embryoid body formation. Dissociated ES cells were cultured in serum-free media supplemented with vitamin B12 and heparin, but without any expensive cytokines. After 14 days in culture, -tubulin type III (TuJ1) and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-positive colonies were detected by immunocytochemical examinations. In addition, specific gene analyses by RT-PCR demonstrated expression of an early central nerve system, mature neuron, and midbrain dopaminergic neuron-specific molecules (i.e., nestin, middle molecular mass neurofilament protein, Nurr1, and TH, respectively). Dopamine was also detected in the culture media by reverse-phase HPLC analysis. These facts indicate that addition of vitamin B12/heparin to serum-free culture media induced neurons from ES cells, which included cells that released dopamine. Other supplements, such as putrescine, biotin, and Fe2+, could not induce neurons from ES cells by themselves, but produced synergistic effects with vitamin B12/heparin. The rate of TuJ1+/TH+ colony formation was increased threefold and the amounts of dopamine released increased 1.5-fold by the addition of a mixture of putrescine, biotin, and Fe2+ to vitamin B12/heparin culture media. Our method is a simple tool to differentiate ES cells to dopaminergic neurons for the preparation of dopamine-releasing cells for the cell transplantation therapy of Parkinson's disease. In addition, this method can facilitate the discovery of soluble factors and genes that can aid in the induction of the ES cell to its neural fate.

Keywords: Differentiation; Dopaminergic neuron; Embryonic stem cell; Heparin; Vitamin B12

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Reparative Materials, Institute for Frontier Medical Sciences, Kyoto University, 53 Kawahara-cho, Shogoin, Sakyo, Kyoto 606-8507, Japan 2: Tokyo Research Laboratories, Kyowa Hakko Kogyo Co., Ltd., 3-6-6 Asahimachi, Machida, Tokyo 194-8533, Japan 3: Organogenesis and Neurogenesis Group, Center for Developmental Biology, RIKEN, Kobe 650-0047, Japan

Publication date: 2006-02-01

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.
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