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Stem Cells International
Volume 2012, Article ID 634914, 8 pages
Research Article

Stimulation of Cultured H9 Human Embryonic Stem Cells with Thyroid Stimulating Hormone Does Not Lead to Formation of Thyroid-Like Cells

1Imaging Sciences Training Program, Clinical Center and National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA
2Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences, Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

Received 2 November 2011; Accepted 31 December 2011

Academic Editor: Gerald A. Colvin

Copyright © 2012 Mykola I. Onyshchenko 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.


The sodium-iodine symporter (NIS) is expressed on the cell membrane of many thyroid cancer cells, and is responsible for the radioactive iodine accumulation. However, treatment of anaplastic thyroid cancer is ineffective due to the low expression of NIS on cell membranes of these tumor cells. Human embryonic stem cells (ESCs) provide a potential vehicle to study the mechanisms of NIS expression regulation during differentiation. Human ESCs were maintained on feeder-independent culture conditions. RT-qPCR and immunocytochemistry were used to study differentiation marker expression, 125I uptake to study NIS function. We designed a two-step protocol for human ESC differentiation into thyroid-like cells, as was previously done for mouse embryonic stem cells. First, we obtained definitive endoderm from human ESCs. Second, we directed differentiation of definitive endoderm cells into thyroid-like cells using various factors, with thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) as the main differentiating factor. Expression of pluripotency, endoderm and thyroid markers and 125I uptake were monitored throughout the differentiation steps. These approaches did not result in efficient induction of thyroid-like cells. We conclude that differentiation of human ESCs into thyroid cells cannot be induced by TSH media supplementation alone and most likely involves complicated developmental patterns that are yet to be understood.