A Time Course Analysis of the Electrophysiological Properties of Neurons Differentiated from Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSCs)

Prè, Deborah; Nestor, Michael W.; Sproul, Andrew A.; Jacob, Samson; Koppensteiner, Peter; Chinchalongporn, Vorapin; Zimmer, Matthew; Yamamoto, Ai; Noggle, Scott A.; Arancio, Ottavio

Many protocols have been designed to differentiate human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) into neurons. Despite the relevance of electrophysiological properties for proper neuronal function, little is known about the evolution over time of important neuronal electrophysiological parameters in iPSC-derived neurons. Yet, understanding the development of basic electrophysiological characteristics of iPSC-derived neurons is critical for evaluating their usefulness in basic and translational research. Therefore, we analyzed the basic electrophysiological parameters of forebrain neurons differentiated from human iPSCs, from day 31 to day 55 after the initiation of neuronal differentiation. We assayed the developmental progression of various properties, including resting membrane potential, action potential, sodium and potassium channel currents, somatic calcium transients and synaptic activity. During the maturation of iPSC-derived neurons, the resting membrane potential became more negative, the expression of voltage-gated sodium channels increased, the membrane became capable of generating action potentials following adequate depolarization and, at day 48–55, 50% of the cells were capable of firing action potentials in response to a prolonged depolarizing current step, of which 30% produced multiple action potentials. The percentage of cells exhibiting miniature excitatory post-synaptic currents increased over time with a significant increase in their frequency and amplitude. These changes were associated with an increase of Ca2+ transient frequency. Co-culturing iPSC-derived neurons with mouse glial cells enhanced the development of electrophysiological parameters as compared to pure iPSC-derived neuronal cultures. This study demonstrates the importance of properly evaluating the electrophysiological status of the newly generated neurons when using stem cell technology, as electrophysiological properties of iPSC-derived neurons mature over time.


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Pathology and Cell Biology
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October 13, 2016