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Stem Cells International
Volume 2016, Article ID 2452985, 8 pages
Research Article

Modeling Neurological Disease by Rapid Conversion of Human Urine Cells into Functional Neurons

1Department of Neurology, Institute of Neurology, Huashan Hospital, Institutes of Brain Science and State Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai 200040, China
2Department of Neurology, Research Center of Neurology in Second Affiliated Hospital, and the Collaborative Innovation Center for Brain Science, Zhejiang University School of Medicine, Hangzhou 310009, China
3Department of Anatomy, Histology & Embryology, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai 200030, China
4Institutes of Brain Science, Institute of Neurobiology and State Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology, Fudan University, Shanghai 200030, China

Received 11 April 2015; Revised 18 July 2015; Accepted 22 July 2015

Academic Editor: Gary E. Lyons

Copyright © 2016 Shu-Zhen Zhang 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.


Somatic cells can be directly converted into functional neurons by ectopic expression of defined factors and/or microRNAs. Since the first report of conversion mouse embryonic fibroblasts into functional neurons, the postnatal mouse, and human fibroblasts, astroglia, hepatocytes, and pericyte-derived cells have been converted into functional dopaminergic and motor neurons both in vitro and in vivo. However, it is invasive to get all these materials. In the current study, we provide a noninvasive approach to obtain directly reprogrammed functional neurons by overexpression of the transcription factors Ascl1, Brn2, NeuroD, c-Myc, and Myt1l in human urine cells. These induced neuronal (iN) cells could express multiple neuron-specific proteins and generate action potentials. Moreover, urine cells from Wilson’s disease (WD) patient could also be directly converted into neurons. In conclusion, generation of iN cells from nonneural lineages is a feasible and befitting approach for neurological disease modeling.