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Special Issue "hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery"

A special issue of International Journal of Molecular Sciences (ISSN 1422-0067). This special issue belongs to the section "Molecular Pathology, Diagnostics, and Therapeutics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2020).

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Rivka Ofir
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell (RMSC) Research Center, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Be'er Sheva, Israel
Interests: reprogramming; differentiation; Brain Blood Barrier (BBB); iPSC; drug discovery; disease in a dish model
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

More than 85% of pre-clinically tested drugs, fail during clinical trials, which results in a long and inefficient and costly process, suggesting that animal models are often poor predictors of human biology. The ability to perform research on human is limited by the lack of physiologically relevant cells (especially the development and assessment of human brain cells and human heart cells). Currently, there are technologies to reprogram adult, somatic cells (e.g. skin biopsy, blood cells, etc) back into a pluripotent stage, termed induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and to differentiate pluripotent cells in vitro into many cell types of the body like heart, muscle, brain cells, etc. These capabilities opened a new era in human disease modeling.

For this Special Issue, we would like to invite papers that follow this concept: To use iPSC-derived cells (cardiomyocytes, fibroblasts, glial cells, neurons, astrocytes, brain microvascular endothelial cells and more) as disease models to screen leads for drugs.

Suggest models like, but not limited to:

  1. A blood-brain-barrier (BBB) model composed of iPSC-derived neurons, astrocytes and brain microvascular endothelial cells (iBMECs) to predict if drugs penetrate or damage the BBB.
  2. Neuro-regeneration vs neurodegeneration: hiPSC-derived neurological disease models, models for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), to suggest compounds that will follow the concept of inducing Neuro-regeneration instead of inhibiting neuro-degeneration.
  3. hiPSC-derived sensory cells for identifying pain relievers
  4. hiPSC-derived microglia cells for treating neurological diseases, and more

Suggest methodologies for monitoring drug effects in iPSC-derived disease models:

e.g. Following screening compounds, iPSC-derived neural cells will be tested for differentiation potential, proliferation and viability by quantification of protein expression, such as βIII-tubulin for neurons and GFAP for astrocytes. To assess functionality of the cells following drug exposure, Microelectrode arrays (MEA) recording for measuring excitability of neuronal cells and cellular permeability and resistance of iBMECs will be monitored. 

Dr. Rivka Ofir
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • iPSC
  • human disease models
  • drug discovery
  • glia cells
  • neurons
  • cardiomyocytes
  • heaptocytes
  • blood-brain-barrier
  • iBMEC
  • astrocytes

Published Papers (24 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(16), 8626; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22168626 - 11 Aug 2021
Viewed by 450
Abstract
More than 85% of pre-clinically tested drugs fail during clinical trials, which results in a long, inefficient and costly process, suggesting that animal models are often poor predictors of human biology [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)

Research

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Article
Human iPSC-Derived 2D and 3D Platforms for Rapidly Assessing Developmental, Functional, and Terminal Toxicities in Neural Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(4), 1908; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22041908 - 14 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1538
Abstract
With increasing global health threats has come an urgent need to rapidly develop and deploy safe and effective therapies. A common practice to fast track clinical adoption of compounds for new indications is to repurpose already approved therapeutics; however, many compounds considered safe [...] Read more.
With increasing global health threats has come an urgent need to rapidly develop and deploy safe and effective therapies. A common practice to fast track clinical adoption of compounds for new indications is to repurpose already approved therapeutics; however, many compounds considered safe to a specific application or population may elicit undesirable side effects when the dosage, usage directives, and/or clinical context are changed. For example, progenitor and developing cells may have different susceptibilities than mature dormant cells, which may yet be different than mature active cells. Thus, in vitro test systems should reflect the cellular context of the native cell: developing, nascent, or functionally active. To that end, we have developed high-throughput, two- and three-dimensional human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived neural screening platforms that reflect different neurodevelopmental stages. As a proof of concept, we implemented this in vitro human system to swiftly identify the potential neurotoxicity profiles of 29 therapeutic compounds that could be repurposed as anti-virals. Interestingly, many compounds displayed high toxicity on early-stage neural tissues but not on later stages. Compounds with the safest overall viability profiles were further evaluated for functional assessment in a high-throughput calcium flux assay. Of the 29 drugs tested, only four did not modulate or have other potentially toxic effects on the developing or mature neurospheroids across all the tested dosages. These results highlight the importance of employing human neural cultures at different stages of development to fully understand the neurotoxicity profile of potential therapeutics across normal ontogeny. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Article
Coxsackievirus B3 Infection of Human iPSC Lines and Derived Primary Germ-Layer Cells Regarding Receptor Expression
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(3), 1220; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22031220 - 27 Jan 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 856
Abstract
The association of members of the enterovirus family with pregnancy complications up to miscarriages is under discussion. Here, infection of two different human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines and iPSC-derived primary germ-layer cells with coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) was characterized as an in [...] Read more.
The association of members of the enterovirus family with pregnancy complications up to miscarriages is under discussion. Here, infection of two different human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines and iPSC-derived primary germ-layer cells with coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) was characterized as an in vitro cell culture model for very early human development. Transcriptomic analysis of iPSC lines infected with recombinant CVB3 expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) revealed a reduction in the expression of pluripotency genes besides an enhancement of genes involved in RNA metabolism. The initial distribution of CVB3-EGFP-positive cells within iPSC colonies correlated with the distribution of its receptor coxsackie- and adenovirus receptor (CAR). Application of anti-CAR blocking antibodies supported the requirement of CAR, but not of the co-receptor decay-accelerating factor (DAF) for infection of iPSC lines. Among iPSC-derived germ-layer cells, mesodermal cells were especially vulnerable to CVB3-EGFP infection. Our data implicate further consideration of members of the enterovirus family in the screening program of human pregnancies. Furthermore, iPSCs with their differentiation capacity into cell populations of relevant viral target organs could offer a reliable screening approach for therapeutic intervention and for assessment of organ-specific enterovirus virulence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Article
Gene Editing Correction of a Urea Cycle Defect in Organoid Stem Cell Derived Hepatocyte-like Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(3), 1217; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22031217 - 26 Jan 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1088
Abstract
Urea cycle disorders are enzymopathies resulting from inherited deficiencies in any genes of the cycle. In severe cases, currently available therapies are marginally effective, with liver transplantation being the only definitive treatment. Donor liver availability can limit even this therapy. Identification of novel [...] Read more.
Urea cycle disorders are enzymopathies resulting from inherited deficiencies in any genes of the cycle. In severe cases, currently available therapies are marginally effective, with liver transplantation being the only definitive treatment. Donor liver availability can limit even this therapy. Identification of novel therapeutics for genetic-based liver diseases requires models that provide measurable hepatic functions and phenotypes. Advances in stem cell and genome editing technologies could provide models for the investigation of cell-based genetic diseases, as well as the platforms for drug discovery. This report demonstrates a practical, and widely applicable, approach that includes the successful reprogramming of somatic cells from a patient with a urea cycle defect, their genetic correction and differentiation into hepatic organoids, and the subsequent demonstration of genetic and phenotypic change in the edited cells consistent with the correction of the defect. While individually rare, there is a large number of other genetic-based liver diseases. The approach described here could be applied to a broad range and a large number of patients with these hepatic diseases where it could serve as an in vitro model, as well as identify successful strategies for corrective cell-based therapy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Article
Cardiomyocytes Derived from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells as a Disease Model for Propionic Acidemia
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(3), 1161; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22031161 - 25 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1092
Abstract
Propionic acidemia (PA), one of the most frequent life-threatening organic acidemias, is caused by mutations in either the PCCA or PCCB genes encoding both subunits of the mitochondrial propionyl-CoA carboxylase (PCC) enzyme. Cardiac alterations (hypertrophy, dilated cardiomyopathy, long QT) are one of the [...] Read more.
Propionic acidemia (PA), one of the most frequent life-threatening organic acidemias, is caused by mutations in either the PCCA or PCCB genes encoding both subunits of the mitochondrial propionyl-CoA carboxylase (PCC) enzyme. Cardiac alterations (hypertrophy, dilated cardiomyopathy, long QT) are one of the major causes of mortality in patients surviving the neonatal period. To overcome limitations of current cellular models of PA, we generated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from a PA patient with defects in the PCCA gene, and successfully differentiated them into cardiomyocytes. PCCA iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes exhibited reduced oxygen consumption, an accumulation of residual bodies and lipid droplets, and increased ribosomal biogenesis. Furthermore, we found increased protein levels of HERP, GRP78, GRP75, SIG-1R and MFN2, suggesting endoplasmic reticulum stress and calcium perturbations in these cells. We also analyzed a series of heart-enriched miRNAs previously found deregulated in the heart tissue of a PA murine model and confirmed their altered expression. Our novel results show that PA iPSC-cardiomyocytes represent a promising model for investigating the pathological mechanisms underlying PA cardiomyopathies, also serving as an ex vivo platform for therapeutic evaluation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Article
Interactome Analysis of iPSC Secretome and Its Effect on Macrophages In Vitro
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(2), 958; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22020958 - 19 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1010
Abstract
Induced pluripotent stem cell secretome (iPSC-CM) mitigate organ injury and help in repair. Macrophages play a critical role in tissue repair and regeneration and can be directed to promote tissue repair by iPSC-CM, although the exact mechanisms are not known. In the current [...] Read more.
Induced pluripotent stem cell secretome (iPSC-CM) mitigate organ injury and help in repair. Macrophages play a critical role in tissue repair and regeneration and can be directed to promote tissue repair by iPSC-CM, although the exact mechanisms are not known. In the current investigative study, we evaluated the possible mechanism by which iPSC-CM regulates the phenotype and secretory pattern of macrophages in vitro. Macrophages were obtained from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells and differentiated to various subpopulations and treated with either iPSC-CM or control media in vitro. Macrophage phenotype was assessed by flow cytometry, gene expression changes by qRT PCR and secretory pattern by multiplex protein analysis. The protein and gene interaction network revealed the involvement of Amyloid precursor protein (APP) and ELAV-like protein 1 (ELAVL-1) both present in the iPSC-CM to play an important role in regulating the macrophage phenotype and their secretory pattern. This exploratory study reveals, in part, the possible mechanism and identifies two potential targets by which iPSC-CM regulate macrophages and help in repair and regeneration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Article
iPSC-Derived Microglia for Modeling Human-Specific DAMP and PAMP Responses in the Context of Alzheimer’s Disease
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(24), 9668; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21249668 - 18 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1117
Abstract
Neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has been the focus for identifying targetable pathways for drug development. The role of amyloid beta (Aβ), a prototype of damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), has been implicated in triggering an inflammatory response. As alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7 [...] Read more.
Neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has been the focus for identifying targetable pathways for drug development. The role of amyloid beta (Aβ), a prototype of damage-associated molecular patterns (DAMPs), has been implicated in triggering an inflammatory response. As alpha7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (α7 nAChR) binds Aβ with high affinity, α7 nAChR may play a role in Aβ-induced neuroinflammation. The conundrum of how α7 nAChR as the mediator of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory response may trigger an inflammatory response has not been resolved. CHRFAM7A, the uniquely human fusion gene between ULK4 and CHRNA7, is a negative regulator of α7 nAChR ionotropic function. To provide the human context, isogenic induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines were developed from CHRFAM7A null and carrier individuals by genome-editing the null line using TALENs to knock-in CHRFAM7A. In iPSC-derived microglia-like cells, CHRFAM7A mitigated Aβ uptake through the α7 nAChR. Despite the lower Aβ uptake, the presence of CHRFAM7A was associated with an innate immune response that was characterized by NF-κB activation and NF-κB target transcription (TNFA, IL6, and IL1B). LPS, a prototype PAMP, induced a heightened immune response in CHRFAM7A carriers. CHRFAM7A modified the dynamics of NF-κB translocation by prolonging its nuclear presence. CHRFAM7A modified the α7 nAChR metabotropic function, resulting in a human-specific innate immune response. This iPSC model provided an opportunity to elucidate the mechanism and establish high throughput screens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Article
Stress-Specific Spatiotemporal Responses of RNA-Binding Proteins in Human Stem Cell-Derived Motor Neurons
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(21), 8346; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21218346 - 06 Nov 2020
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1328
Abstract
RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) have been shown to play a key role in the pathogenesis of a variety of neurodegenerative disorders. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an exemplar neurodegenerative disease characterised by rapid progression and relatively selective motor neuron loss. Nuclear-to-cytoplasmic mislocalisation and accumulation [...] Read more.
RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) have been shown to play a key role in the pathogenesis of a variety of neurodegenerative disorders. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an exemplar neurodegenerative disease characterised by rapid progression and relatively selective motor neuron loss. Nuclear-to-cytoplasmic mislocalisation and accumulation of RBPs have been identified as a pathological hallmark of the disease, yet the spatiotemporal responses of RBPs to different extrinsic stressors in human neurons remain incompletely understood. Here, we used healthy induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived motor neurons to model how different types of cellular stress affect the nucleocytoplasmic localisation of key ALS-linked RBPs. We found that osmotic stress robustly induced nuclear loss of TDP-43, SPFQ, FUS, hnRNPA1 and hnRNPK, with characteristic changes in nucleocytoplasmic localisation in an RBP-dependent manner. Interestingly, we found that RBPs displayed stress-dependent characteristics, with unique responses to both heat and oxidative stress. Alongside nucleocytoplasmic protein distribution changes, we identified the formation of stress- and RBP-specific nuclear and cytoplasmic foci. Furthermore, the kinetics of nuclear relocalisation upon recovery from extrinsic stressors was also found to be both stress- and RBP-specific. Importantly, these experiments specifically highlight TDP-43 and FUS, two of the most recognised RBPs in ALS pathogenesis, as exhibiting delayed nuclear relocalisation following stress in healthy human motor neurons as compared to SFPQ, hnRNPA1 and hnRNPK. Notably, ALS-causing valosin containing protein (VCP) mutations did not disrupt the relocalisation dynamics of TDP-43 or FUS in human motor neurons following stress. An increased duration of TDP-43 and FUS within the cytoplasm after stress may render the environment more aggregation-prone, which may be poorly tolerated in the context of ALS and related neurodegenerative disorders. In summary, our study addresses stress-specific spatiotemporal responses of neurodegeneration-related RBPs in human motor neurons. The insights into the nucleocytoplasmic dynamics of RBPs provided here may be informative for future studies examining both disease mechanisms and therapeutic strategy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Article
Antioxidant Amelioration of Riboflavin Transporter Deficiency in Motoneurons Derived from Patient-Specific Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(19), 7402; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21197402 - 07 Oct 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1679
Abstract
Mitochondrial dysfunction is a key element in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders, such as riboflavin transporter deficiency (RTD). This is a rare, childhood-onset disease characterized by motoneuron degeneration and caused by mutations in SLC52A2 and SLC52A3, encoding riboflavin (RF) transporters (RFVT2 and [...] Read more.
Mitochondrial dysfunction is a key element in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders, such as riboflavin transporter deficiency (RTD). This is a rare, childhood-onset disease characterized by motoneuron degeneration and caused by mutations in SLC52A2 and SLC52A3, encoding riboflavin (RF) transporters (RFVT2 and RFVT3, respectively), resulting in muscle weakness, ponto-bulbar paralysis and sensorineural deafness. Based on previous findings, which document the contribution of oxidative stress in RTD pathogenesis, we tested possible beneficial effects of several antioxidants (Vitamin C, Idebenone, Coenzyme Q10 and EPI-743, either alone or in combination with RF) on the morphology and function of neurons derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from two RTD patients. To identify possible improvement of the neuronal morphotype, neurite length was measured by confocal microscopy after β-III tubulin immunofluorescent staining. Neuronal function was evaluated by determining superoxide anion generation by MitoSOX assay and intracellular calcium (Ca2+) levels, using the Fluo-4 probe. Among the antioxidants tested, EPI-743 restored the redox status, improved neurite length and ameliorated intracellular calcium influx into RTD motoneurons. In conclusion, we suggest that antioxidant supplementation may have a role in RTD treatment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Article
Robust and Scalable Angiogenesis Assay of Perfused 3D Human iPSC-Derived Endothelium for Anti-Angiogenic Drug Screening
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(13), 4804; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21134804 - 07 Jul 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2653
Abstract
To advance pre-clinical vascular drug research, in vitro assays are needed that closely mimic the process of angiogenesis in vivo. Such assays should combine physiological relevant culture conditions with robustness and scalability to enable drug screening. We developed a perfused 3D angiogenesis [...] Read more.
To advance pre-clinical vascular drug research, in vitro assays are needed that closely mimic the process of angiogenesis in vivo. Such assays should combine physiological relevant culture conditions with robustness and scalability to enable drug screening. We developed a perfused 3D angiogenesis assay that includes endothelial cells (ECs) from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) and assessed its performance and suitability for anti-angiogenic drug screening. Angiogenic sprouting was compared with primary ECs and showed that the microvessels from iPSC-EC exhibit similar sprouting behavior, including tip cell formation, directional sprouting and lumen formation. Inhibition with sunitinib, a clinically used vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) receptor type 2 inhibitor, and 3-(3-pyridinyl)-1-(4-pyridinyl)-2-propen-1-one (3PO), a transient glycolysis inhibitor, both significantly reduced the sprouting of both iPSC-ECs and primary ECs, supporting that both cell types show VEGF gradient-driven angiogenic sprouting. The assay performance was quantified for sunitinib, yielding a minimal signal window of 11 and Z-factor of at least 0.75, both meeting the criteria to be used as screening assay. In conclusion, we have developed a robust and scalable assay that includes physiological relevant culture conditions and is amenable to screening of anti-angiogenic compounds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Article
Human Spinal Motor Neurons Are Particularly Vulnerable to Cerebrospinal Fluid of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Patients
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(10), 3564; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21103564 - 18 May 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1472
Abstract
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common and devastating motor neuron (MN) disease. Its pathophysiological cascade is still enigmatic. More than 90% of ALS patients suffer from sporadic ALS, which makes it specifically demanding to generate appropriate model systems. One interesting aspect [...] Read more.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common and devastating motor neuron (MN) disease. Its pathophysiological cascade is still enigmatic. More than 90% of ALS patients suffer from sporadic ALS, which makes it specifically demanding to generate appropriate model systems. One interesting aspect considering the seeding, spreading and further disease development of ALS is the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). We therefore asked whether CSF from sporadic ALS patients is capable of causing disease typical changes in human patient-derived spinal MN cultures and thus could represent a novel model system for sporadic ALS. By using induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived MNs from healthy controls and monogenetic forms of ALS we could demonstrate a harmful effect of ALS-CSF on healthy donor-derived human MNs. Golgi fragmentation—a typical finding in lower organism models and human postmortem tissue—was induced solely by addition of ALS-CSF, but not control-CSF. No other neurodegenerative hallmarks—including pathological protein aggregation—were found, underpinning Golgi fragmentation as early event in the neurodegenerative cascade. Of note, these changes occurred predominantly in MNs, the cell type primarily affected in ALS. We thus present a novel way to model early features of sporadic ALS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Article
Inhibition of RNA Helicase Activity Prevents Coxsackievirus B3-Induced Myocarditis in Human iPS Cardiomyocytes
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(9), 3041; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21093041 - 25 Apr 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1097
Abstract
Aims: Coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) is known to be an important cause of myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy. Enterovirus-2C (E2C) is a viral RNA helicase. It inhibits host protein synthesis. Based on these facts, we hypothesize that the inhibition of 2C may suppress virus replication [...] Read more.
Aims: Coxsackievirus B3 (CVB3) is known to be an important cause of myocarditis and dilated cardiomyopathy. Enterovirus-2C (E2C) is a viral RNA helicase. It inhibits host protein synthesis. Based on these facts, we hypothesize that the inhibition of 2C may suppress virus replication and prevent enterovirus-mediated cardiomyopathy. Methods and Results: We generated a chemically modified enterovirus-2C inhibitor (E2CI). From the in vitro assay, E2CI was showed strong antiviral effects. For in vivo testing, mice were treated with E2CI intraperitoneally injected daily for three consecutive days at a dose of 8 mg/kg per day, after CVB3 post-infection (p.i) (CVB3 + E2CI, n = 33). For the infected controls (CVB3 only, n = 35), mice were injected with PBS (phosphate buffered saline) in a DBA/2 strain to establish chronic myocarditis. The four-week survival rate of E2CI-treated mice was significantly higher than that of controls (92% vs. 71%; p < 0.05). Virus titers and myocardial damage were significantly reduced in the E2CI treated group. In addition, echocardiography indicated that E2CI administration dramatically maintained mouse heart function compared to control at day 28 p.i chronic stage (LVIDD, 3.1 ± 0.08 vs. 3.9 ± 0.09, p < 0.01; LVDS, 2.0 ± 0.07 vs. 2.5 ± 0.07, p < 0.001; FS, 34.8 ± 1.6% vs. 28.5 ± 1.5%; EF, 67. 9 ± 2.9% vs. 54.7 ± 4.7%, p < 0.05; CVB3 + E2CI, n = 6 vs. CVB3, n = 4). Moreover, E2CI is effectively worked in human iPS (induced pluripotent stem cell) derived cardiomyocytes. Conclusion: Enterovirus-2C inhibitor (E2CI) was significantly reduced viral replication, chronic myocardium damage, and CVB3-induced mortality in DBA/2 mice. These results suggested that E2CI is a novel therapeutic agent for the treatment of enterovirus-mediated diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Article
Electrophysiological Abnormalities in VLCAD Deficient hiPSC-Cardiomyocytes Can Be Improved by Lowering Accumulation of Fatty Acid Oxidation Intermediates
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(7), 2589; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21072589 - 08 Apr 2020
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 1822
Abstract
Patients with very long-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (VLCADD) can present with life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. The pathophysiological mechanism is unknown. We reprogrammed fibroblasts from one mildly and one severely affected VLCADD patient, into human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and differentiated these into cardiomyocytes [...] Read more.
Patients with very long-chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (VLCADD) can present with life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. The pathophysiological mechanism is unknown. We reprogrammed fibroblasts from one mildly and one severely affected VLCADD patient, into human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) and differentiated these into cardiomyocytes (VLCADD-CMs). VLCADD-CMs displayed shorter action potentials (APs), more delayed afterdepolarizations (DADs) and higher systolic and diastolic intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) than control CMs. The mitochondrial booster resveratrol mitigated the biochemical, electrophysiological and [Ca2+]i changes in the mild but not in the severe VLCADD-CMs. Accumulation of potentially toxic intermediates of fatty acid oxidation was blocked by substrate reduction with etomoxir. Incubation with etomoxir led to marked prolongation of AP duration and reduced DADs and [Ca2+]i in both VLCADD-CMs. These results provide compelling evidence that reduced accumulation of fatty acid oxidation intermediates, either by enhanced fatty acid oxidation flux through increased mitochondria biogenesis (resveratrol) or by inhibition of fatty acid transport into the mitochondria (etomoxir), rescues pro-arrhythmia defects in VLCADD-CMs and open doors for new treatments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Review

Jump to: Editorial, Research

Review
Emerging hiPSC Models for Drug Discovery in Neurodegenerative Diseases
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(15), 8196; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22158196 - 30 Jul 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1166
Abstract
Neurodegenerative diseases affect millions of people worldwide and are characterized by the chronic and progressive deterioration of neural function. Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Huntington’s disease (HD), represent a huge social and economic [...] Read more.
Neurodegenerative diseases affect millions of people worldwide and are characterized by the chronic and progressive deterioration of neural function. Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease (PD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Huntington’s disease (HD), represent a huge social and economic burden due to increasing prevalence in our aging society, severity of symptoms, and lack of effective disease-modifying therapies. This lack of effective treatments is partly due to a lack of reliable models. Modeling neurodegenerative diseases is difficult because of poor access to human samples (restricted in general to postmortem tissue) and limited knowledge of disease mechanisms in a human context. Animal models play an instrumental role in understanding these diseases but fail to comprehensively represent the full extent of disease due to critical differences between humans and other mammals. The advent of human-induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) technology presents an advantageous system that complements animal models of neurodegenerative diseases. Coupled with advances in gene-editing technologies, hiPSC-derived neural cells from patients and healthy donors now allow disease modeling using human samples that can be used for drug discovery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Review
Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Exosomes as a New Therapeutic Strategy for Various Diseases
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(4), 1769; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22041769 - 10 Feb 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1340
Abstract
Recently, an increasing number of studies have demonstrated that induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and iPSC-derived cells display therapeutic effects, mainly via the paracrine mechanism in addition to their transdifferentiation ability. Exosomes have emerged as an important paracrine factor for iPSCs to repair [...] Read more.
Recently, an increasing number of studies have demonstrated that induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and iPSC-derived cells display therapeutic effects, mainly via the paracrine mechanism in addition to their transdifferentiation ability. Exosomes have emerged as an important paracrine factor for iPSCs to repair injured cells through the delivery of bioactive components. Animal reports of iPSC-derived exosomes on various disease models are increasing, such as in heart, limb, liver, skin, bone, eye and neurological disease and so forth. This review aims to summarize the therapeutic effects of iPSC-derived exosomes on various disease models and their properties, such as angiogenesis, cell proliferation and anti-apoptosis, with the hopes of improving their potential role in clinical applications and functional restoration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
Review
Human iPSC-Based Modeling of Central Nerve System Disorders for Drug Discovery
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(3), 1203; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22031203 - 26 Jan 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1535
Abstract
A high-throughput drug screen identifies potentially promising therapeutics for clinical trials. However, limitations that persist in current disease modeling with limited physiological relevancy of human patients skew drug responses, hamper translation of clinical efficacy, and contribute to high clinical attritions. The emergence of [...] Read more.
A high-throughput drug screen identifies potentially promising therapeutics for clinical trials. However, limitations that persist in current disease modeling with limited physiological relevancy of human patients skew drug responses, hamper translation of clinical efficacy, and contribute to high clinical attritions. The emergence of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology revolutionizes the paradigm of drug discovery. In particular, iPSC-based three-dimensional (3D) tissue engineering that appears as a promising vehicle of in vitro disease modeling provides more sophisticated tissue architectures and micro-environmental cues than a traditional two-dimensional (2D) culture. Here we discuss 3D based organoids/spheroids that construct the advanced modeling with evolved structural complexity, which propels drug discovery by exhibiting more human specific and diverse pathologies that are not perceived in 2D or animal models. We will then focus on various central nerve system (CNS) disease modeling using human iPSCs, leading to uncovering disease pathogenesis that guides the development of therapeutic strategies. Finally, we will address new opportunities of iPSC-assisted drug discovery with multi-disciplinary approaches from bioengineering to Omics technology. Despite technological challenges, iPSC-derived cytoarchitectures through interactions of diverse cell types mimic patients’ CNS and serve as a platform for therapeutic development and personalized precision medicine. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Review
Pluripotent Stem Cells for Disease Modeling and Drug Discovery in Niemann-Pick Type C1
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(2), 710; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22020710 - 12 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 977
Abstract
The lysosomal storage disorders Niemann-Pick disease Type C1 (NPC1) and Type C2 (NPC2) are rare diseases caused by mutations in the NPC1 or NPC2 gene. Both NPC1 and NPC2 are proteins responsible for the exit of cholesterol from late endosomes and lysosomes (LE/LY). [...] Read more.
The lysosomal storage disorders Niemann-Pick disease Type C1 (NPC1) and Type C2 (NPC2) are rare diseases caused by mutations in the NPC1 or NPC2 gene. Both NPC1 and NPC2 are proteins responsible for the exit of cholesterol from late endosomes and lysosomes (LE/LY). Consequently, mutations in one of the two proteins lead to the accumulation of unesterified cholesterol and glycosphingolipids in LE/LY, displaying a disease hallmark. A total of 95% of cases are due to a deficiency of NPC1 and only 5% are caused by NPC2 deficiency. Clinical manifestations include neurological symptoms and systemic symptoms, such as hepatosplenomegaly and pulmonary manifestations, the latter being particularly pronounced in NPC2 patients. NPC1 and NPC2 are rare diseases with the described neurovisceral clinical picture, but studies with human primary patient-derived neurons and hepatocytes are hardly feasible. Obviously, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and their derivatives are an excellent alternative for indispensable studies with these affected cell types to study the multisystemic disease NPC1. Here, we present a review focusing on studies that have used iPSCs for disease modeling and drug discovery in NPC1 and draw a comparison to commonly used NPC1 models. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Review
Human Embryo Models and Drug Discovery
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2021, 22(2), 637; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22020637 - 11 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1130
Abstract
For obvious reasons, such as, e.g., ethical concerns or sample accessibility, model systems are of highest importance to study the underlying molecular mechanisms of human maladies with the aim to develop innovative and effective therapeutic strategies. Since many years, animal models and highly [...] Read more.
For obvious reasons, such as, e.g., ethical concerns or sample accessibility, model systems are of highest importance to study the underlying molecular mechanisms of human maladies with the aim to develop innovative and effective therapeutic strategies. Since many years, animal models and highly proliferative transformed cell lines are successfully used for disease modelling, drug discovery, target validation, and preclinical testing. Still, species-specific differences regarding genetics and physiology and the limited suitability of immortalized cell lines to draw conclusions on normal human cells or specific cell types, are undeniable shortcomings. The progress in human pluripotent stem cell research now allows the growth of a virtually limitless supply of normal and DNA-edited human cells, which can be differentiated into various specific cell types. However, cells in the human body never fulfill their functions in mono-lineage isolation and diseases always develop in complex multicellular ecosystems. The recent advances in stem cell-based 3D organoid technologies allow a more accurate in vitro recapitulation of human pathologies. Embryoids are a specific type of such multicellular structures that do not only mimic a single organ or tissue, but the entire human conceptus or at least relevant components of it. Here we briefly describe the currently existing in vitro human embryo models and discuss their putative future relevance for disease modelling and drug discovery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Review
Induced Pluripotency: A Powerful Tool for In Vitro Modeling
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(23), 8910; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21238910 - 24 Nov 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 976
Abstract
One of the greatest breakthroughs of regenerative medicine in this century was the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology in 2006 by Shinya Yamanaka. iPSCs originate from terminally differentiated somatic cells that have newly acquired the developmental capacity of self-renewal and [...] Read more.
One of the greatest breakthroughs of regenerative medicine in this century was the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology in 2006 by Shinya Yamanaka. iPSCs originate from terminally differentiated somatic cells that have newly acquired the developmental capacity of self-renewal and differentiation into any cells of three germ layers. Before iPSCs can be used routinely in clinical practice, their efficacy and safety need to be rigorously tested; however, iPSCs have already become effective and fully-fledged tools for application under in vitro conditions. They are currently routinely used for disease modeling, preparation of difficult-to-access cell lines, monitoring of cellular mechanisms in micro- or macroscopic scales, drug testing and screening, genetic engineering, and many other applications. This review is a brief summary of the reprogramming process and subsequent differentiation and culture of reprogrammed cells into neural precursor cells (NPCs) in two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) conditions. NPCs can be used as biomedical models for neurodegenerative diseases (NDs), which are currently considered to be one of the major health problems in the human population. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Review
hiPSC-Derived Cardiac Tissue for Disease Modeling and Drug Discovery
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(23), 8893; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21238893 - 24 Nov 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1161
Abstract
Relevant, predictive normal, or disease model systems are of vital importance for drug development. The difference between nonhuman models and humans could contribute to clinical trial failures despite ideal nonhuman results. As a potential substitute for animal models, human induced pluripotent stem cell [...] Read more.
Relevant, predictive normal, or disease model systems are of vital importance for drug development. The difference between nonhuman models and humans could contribute to clinical trial failures despite ideal nonhuman results. As a potential substitute for animal models, human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived cardiomyocytes (CMs) provide a powerful tool for drug toxicity screening, modeling cardiovascular diseases, and drug discovery. Here, we review recent hiPSC-CM disease models and discuss the features of hiPSC-CMs, including subtype and maturation and the tissue engineering technologies for drug assessment. Updates from the international multisite collaborators/administrations for development of novel drug discovery paradigms are also summarized. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Review
Drug Development and the Use of Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes for Disease Modeling and Drug Toxicity Screening
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(19), 7320; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21197320 - 03 Oct 2020
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1711
Abstract
Over the years, numerous groups have employed human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs) as a superb human-compatible model for investigating the function and dysfunction of cardiomyocytes, drug screening and toxicity, disease modeling and for the development of novel drugs for heart diseases. [...] Read more.
Over the years, numerous groups have employed human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes (iPSC-CMs) as a superb human-compatible model for investigating the function and dysfunction of cardiomyocytes, drug screening and toxicity, disease modeling and for the development of novel drugs for heart diseases. In this review, we discuss the broad use of iPSC-CMs for drug development and disease modeling, in two related themes. In the first theme—drug development, adverse drug reactions, mechanisms of cardiotoxicity and the need for efficient drug screening protocols—we discuss the critical need to screen old and new drugs, the process of drug development, marketing and Adverse Drug reactions (ADRs), drug-induced cardiotoxicity, safety screening during drug development, drug development and patient-specific effect and different mechanisms of ADRs. In the second theme—using iPSC-CMs for disease modeling and developing novel drugs for heart diseases—we discuss the rationale for using iPSC-CMs and modeling acquired and inherited heart diseases with iPSC-CMs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Review
Patient-Derived Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Based Models in Parkinson’s Disease for Drug Identification
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(19), 7113; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21197113 - 26 Sep 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1504
Abstract
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a common progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by loss of striatal-projecting dopaminergic neurons of the ventral forebrain, resulting in motor and cognitive deficits. Despite extensive efforts in understanding PD pathogenesis, no disease-modifying drugs exist. Recent advances in cell reprogramming technologies [...] Read more.
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a common progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by loss of striatal-projecting dopaminergic neurons of the ventral forebrain, resulting in motor and cognitive deficits. Despite extensive efforts in understanding PD pathogenesis, no disease-modifying drugs exist. Recent advances in cell reprogramming technologies have facilitated the generation of patient-derived models for sporadic or familial PD and the identification of early, potentially triggering, pathological phenotypes while they provide amenable systems for drug discovery. Emerging developments highlight the enhanced potential of using more sophisticated cellular systems, including neuronal and glial co-cultures as well as three-dimensional systems that better simulate the human pathophysiology. In combination with high-throughput high-content screening technologies, these approaches open new perspectives for the identification of disease-modifying compounds. In this review, we discuss current advances and the challenges ahead in the use of patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells for drug discovery in PD. We address new concepts implicating non-neuronal cells in disease pathogenesis and highlight the necessity for functional assays, such as calcium imaging and multi-electrode array recordings, to predict drug efficacy. Finally, we argue that artificial intelligence technologies will be pivotal for analysis of the large and complex data sets obtained, becoming game-changers in the process of drug discovery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Review
Human Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Neural Cells as a Relevant Platform for Drug Screening in Alzheimer’s Disease
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(18), 6867; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21186867 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 1777
Abstract
Extracellular amyloid-beta deposition and intraneuronal Tau-laden neurofibrillary tangles are prime features of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The pathology of AD is very complex and still not fully understood, since different neural cell types are involved in the disease. Although neuronal function is clearly deteriorated [...] Read more.
Extracellular amyloid-beta deposition and intraneuronal Tau-laden neurofibrillary tangles are prime features of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The pathology of AD is very complex and still not fully understood, since different neural cell types are involved in the disease. Although neuronal function is clearly deteriorated in AD patients, recently, an increasing number of evidences have pointed towards glial cell dysfunction as one of the main causative phenomena implicated in AD pathogenesis. The complex disease pathology together with the lack of reliable disease models have precluded the development of effective therapies able to counteract disease progression. The discovery and implementation of human pluripotent stem cell technology represents an important opportunity in this field, as this system allows the generation of patient-derived cells to be used for disease modeling and therapeutic target identification and as a platform to be employed in drug discovery programs. In this review, we discuss the current studies using human pluripotent stem cells focused on AD, providing convincing evidences that this system is an excellent opportunity to advance in the comprehension of AD pathology, which will be translated to the development of the still missing effective therapies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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Review
iPSC-Derived Liver Organoids: A Journey from Drug Screening, to Disease Modeling, Arriving to Regenerative Medicine
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(17), 6215; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21176215 - 27 Aug 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 2019
Abstract
Liver transplantation is the most common treatment for patients suffering from liver failure that is caused by congenital diseases, infectious agents, and environmental factors. Despite a high rate of patient survival following transplantation, organ availability remains the key limiting factor. As such, research [...] Read more.
Liver transplantation is the most common treatment for patients suffering from liver failure that is caused by congenital diseases, infectious agents, and environmental factors. Despite a high rate of patient survival following transplantation, organ availability remains the key limiting factor. As such, research has focused on the transplantation of different cell types that are capable of repopulating and restoring liver function. The best cellular mix capable of engrafting and proliferating over the long-term, as well as the optimal immunosuppression regimens, remain to be clearly well-defined. Hence, alternative strategies in the field of regenerative medicine have been explored. Since the discovery of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) that have the potential of differentiating into a broad spectrum of cell types, many studies have reported the achievement of iPSCs differentiation into liver cells, such as hepatocytes, cholangiocytes, endothelial cells, and Kupffer cells. In parallel, an increasing interest in the study of self-assemble or matrix-guided three-dimensional (3D) organoids have paved the way for functional bioartificial livers. In this review, we will focus on the recent breakthroughs in the development of iPSCs-based liver organoids and the major drawbacks and challenges that need to be overcome for the development of future applications. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue hiPSC-Derived Cells as Models for Drug Discovery)
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