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Stem Cells International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 647437, 10 pages
Research Article

Neural Progenitor Cells Derived from Human Embryonic Stem Cells as an Origin of Dopaminergic Neurons

1School of Biotechnology, Institute of Agricultural Technology, Suranaree University of Technology, Nakhon Ratchasima 30000, Thailand
2Institute of Biomedicine, Department of Physiology, University of Helsinki, 00290 Helsinki, Finland
3Children’s Hospital, Helsinki University Central Hospital, 00290 Helsinki, Finland
4Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Hammersmith Campus, London W12 0NN, UK

Received 27 January 2015; Revised 11 April 2015; Accepted 14 April 2015

Academic Editor: Boon Chin Heng

Copyright © 2015 Parinya Noisa 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 embryonic stem cells (hESCs) are able to proliferate in vitro indefinitely without losing their ability to differentiate into multiple cell types upon exposure to appropriate signals. Particularly, the ability of hESCs to differentiate into neuronal subtypes is fundamental to develop cell-based therapies for several neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. In this study, we differentiated hESCs to dopaminergic neurons via an intermediate stage, neural progenitor cells (NPCs). hESCs were induced to neural progenitor cells by Dorsomorphin, a small molecule that inhibits BMP signalling. The resulting neural progenitor cells exhibited neural bipolarity with high expression of neural progenitor genes and possessed multipotential differentiation ability. CBF1 and bFGF responsiveness of these hES-NP cells suggested their similarity to embryonic neural progenitor cells. A substantial number of dopaminergic neurons were derived from hES-NP cells upon supplementation of FGF8 and SHH, key dopaminergic neuron inducers. Importantly, multiple markers of midbrain neurons were detected, including NURR1, PITX3, and EN1, suggesting that hESC-derived dopaminergic neurons attained the midbrain identity. Altogether, this work underscored the generation of neural progenitor cells that retain the properties of embryonic neural progenitor cells. These cells will serve as an unlimited source for the derivation of dopaminergic neurons, which might be applicable for treating patients with Parkinson’s disease.