Pro-maturational Effects of Human iPSC-Derived Cortical Astrocytes upon iPSC-Derived Cortical Neurons.
Hedegaard A., Monzón-Sandoval J., Newey SE., Whiteley ES., Webber C., Akerman CJ.
Astrocytes influence neuronal maturation and function by providing trophic support, regulating the extracellular environment, and modulating signaling at synapses. The emergence of induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology offers a human system with which to validate and re-evaluate insights from animal studies. Here, we set out to examine interactions between human astrocytes and neurons derived from a common cortical progenitor pool, thereby recapitulating aspects of in vivo cortical development. We show that the cortical iPSC-derived astrocytes exhibit many of the molecular and functional hallmarks of astrocytes. Furthermore, optogenetic and electrophysiological co-culture experiments reveal that the iPSC-astrocytes can actively modulate ongoing synaptic transmission and exert pro-maturational effects upon developing networks of iPSC-derived cortical neurons. Finally, transcriptomic analyses implicate synapse-associated extracellular signaling in the astrocytes' pro-maturational effects upon the iPSC-derived neurons. This work helps lay the foundation for future investigations into astrocyte-to-neuron interactions in human health and disease.