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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 150901, 7 pages
Review Article

Use of Insulin to Increase Epiblast Cell Number: Towards a New Approach for Improving ESC Isolation from Human Embryos

1Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, School of Paediatrics and Reproductive Health, University of Adelaide, Medical School South, Level 3, Frome Road, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia
2Centre for Stem Cell Research, University of Adelaide, Medical School South, Level 3, Frome Road, Adelaide, SA 5005, Australia
3Repromed, 180 Fullarton Road, Dulwich, SA 5065, Australia

Received 27 October 2012; Accepted 7 January 2013

Academic Editor: Deepa Bhartiya

Copyright © 2013 Jared M. Campbell et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Human embryos donated for embryonic stem cell (ESC) derivation have often been cryopreserved for 5–10 years. As a consequence, many of these embryos have been cultured in media now known to affect embryo viability and the number of ESC progenitor epiblast cells. Historically, these conditions supported only low levels of blastocyst development necessitating their transfer or cryopreservation at the 4–8-cell stage. As such, these embryos are donated at the cleavage stage and require further culture to the blastocyst stage before hESC derivation can be attempted. These are generally of poor quality, and, consequently, the efficiency of hESC derivation is low. Recent work using a mouse model has shown that the culture of embryos from the cleavage stage with insulin to day 6 increases the blastocyst epiblast cell number, which in turn increases the number of pluripotent cells in outgrowths following plating, and results in an increased capacity to give rise to ESCs. These findings suggest that culture with insulin may provide a strategy to improve the efficiency with which hESCs are derived from embryos donated at the cleavage stage.