Sue and Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, University of California Irvine, Irvine CA 92697, USA; Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of California Irvine, Irvine CA 92697, USA. Electronic address: [Email]
In the CNS, perivascular cells ("pericytes") associate with endothelial cells to mediate the formation of tight junctions essential to the function of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The BBB protects the CNS by regulating the flow of nutrients and toxins into and out of the brain. BBB dysfunction has been implicated in the progression of Alzheimer's disease (AD), but the role of pericytes in BBB dysfunction in AD is not well understood. In the developing embryo, CNS pericytes originate from two sources: mesoderm and neural crest. In this study, we report two protocols using mesoderm or neural crest intermediates, to generate brain-specific pericyte-like cells from induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines created from healthy and AD patients. iPSC-derived pericytes display stable expression of pericyte surface markers and brain-specific genes and are functionally capable of increasing vascular tube formation and endothelial barrier properties.