Neurons Derived from Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Integrate into Rat Brain Circuits and Maintain Both Excitatory and Inhibitory Synaptic Activities

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The human cerebral cortex is a complex structure with tightly interconnected excitatory and inhibitory neuronal networks. In order to study human cortical function, we recently developed a method to generate cortical neurons from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) that form both excitatory and inhibitory neuronal networks resembling the composition of the human cortex. These cultures and organoids recapitulate neuronal populations representative of the six cortical layers and a balanced excitatory and inhibitory network that is functional and homeostatically stable. To determine whether hiPSC-derived neurons can integrate and retain physiologic activities in vivo, we labeled hiPSCs with red fluorescent protein (RFP) and introduced hiPSC-derived neural progenitors to rat brains. Efficient neural induction, followed by differentiation resulted in a RFP+ neural population with traits of forebrain identity and a balanced synaptic activity composed of both excitatory neurons and inhibitory interneurons. Ten weeks after transplantation, grafted cells structurally integrated into the rat forebrain. Remarkably, these hiPSC-derived neurons were able to fire, exhibiting both excitatory and inhibitory postsynaptic currents, which culminates in the establishment of neuronal connectivity with the host circuitry. This study demonstrates that neural progenitors derived from hiPSCs can differentiate into functional cortical neurons and can participate in neural network activity through functional synaptic integration in vivo, thereby contributing to information processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019



  • balanced excitatory and inhibitory network
  • hiPSC-derived neurons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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