This project aims to establish and characterize an in vitro model of the developing human brain for the purpose of testing drugs and chemicals. To accurately assess risk, a model needs to recapitulate the complex interactions between different types of glial cells and neurons in a three-dimensional platform. Moreover, human cells are preferred over cells from rodents to eliminate cross-species differences in sensitivity to chemicals. Previously, we established conditions to culture rat primary cells as three-dimensional aggregates, which will be humanized and evaluated here with induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). The use of iPSCs allows us to address gene/environment interactions as well as the potential of chemicals to interfere with epigenetic mechanisms. Additionally, iPSCs afford us the opportunity to study the effect of chemicals during very early stages of brain development. It is well recognized that assays for testing toxicity in the developing brain must consider differences in sensitivity and susceptibility that arise depending on the time of exposure. This model will reflect critical developmental processes such as proliferation, differentiation, lineage specification, migration, axonal growth, dendritic arborization and synaptogenesis, which will probably display differences in sensitivity to different types of chemicals. Functional endpoints will evaluate the complex cell-to-cell interactions that are affected in neurodevelopment through chemical perturbation, and the efficacy of drug intervention to prevent or reverse phenotypes. The model described is designed to assess developmental neurotoxicity effects on unique processes occurring during human brain development by leveraging human iPSCs from diverse genetic backgrounds, which can be differentiated into different cell types of the central nervous system. Our goal is to demonstrate the feasibility of the personalized model using iPSCs derived from individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders caused by known mutations and chromosomal aberrations. Notably, such a human brain model will be a versatile tool for more complex testing platforms and strategies as well as research into central nervous system physiology and pathology.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Medicine (miscellaneous)
- Molecular Medicine
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
- Cell Biology