More than Cells - new published paper in Stem Cell Reports


Research groups worldwide have been working on cellular models that can be used in the laboratory to study the functioning of brain cells, in particular to perform preliminary studies of new drugs or other therapeutically approaches. Researchers from both iBET and ITQB NOVA have been focusing on neurospheroids, 3D neural cell models that were differentiated from human pluripotent stem cells. The research team has found that the process of differentiating and letting the cells grow in a controlled environment provides an extracellular matrix and the presence of different molecules outside the cells that can mimic the brain microenvironment more accurately than other models proposed so far. The results were published today in the journal Stem Cell Reports.

Daniel Simão, first author of the paper, explains: “We were able to show, through quantitative transcriptomics and proteomics analysis of the 3D models, that with our neurospheroids there is expression, secretion and accumulation of biological materials outside the cells that match the characteristic mix of specific regions of the human fetal brain more accurately than classic 2D cell cultures or other 3D approaches, like cerebral organoids”.

“We know that the brain microenvironment plays an important role in neurodevelopment and pathology, and we are now using our models to study aspects of neurological diseases we cannot approach with other methods”, says Catarina Brito, researcher at the Animal Cell Technology Unit and head of the Advanced Cell Models Lab at iBET/ITQB NOVA, and leader of this study.

This work was done in collaboration with Paula Alves laboratory, also from the Animal Cell Technology Unit, and researchers from the University of Cologne and the University of Göttingen, in Germany, and with the important contribution of UniMS, the joint Mass Spectrometry Unit of iBET and ITQB NOVA that provides state-of-the-art MS services to the scientific community and Industry.

Photo: The team of researchers involved in the study. © ITQB NOVA

Original Paper

Daniel Simão, Marta M. Silva, Ana P. Terrasso, Francisca Arez, Marcos F. Q. Sousa, Narges Z. Mehrjardi, Tomo Šarić, Patrícia Gomes-Alves, Nuno Raimundo, Paula M. Alves, Catarina Brito. (2018). Recapitulation of human neural microenvironment signatures in iPSC-derived NPC 3D differentiation. Stem Cell Reports.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.stemcr.2018.06.020