Ask the Expert – Using Blood Cells As a Source for Generating Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

By on February 22, 2015
Ask the Expert

Human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells have the potential to greatly impact many areas of research and medicine and can be generated by reprogramming somatic cells through transient overexpression of key reprogramming factors.

While dermal fibroblasts were the first human cell type to be reprogrammed into iPS cells, blood cells are also increasingly being utilized as a starting cell type due to the limited invasiveness of sample collection, and the availability of banked blood samples representing a variety of disease, age, gender and geographical subtypes.

The choice of cell type to use for reprogramming is based on:

  • The accessibility of tissue samples
  • The genetic make-up of the target cells
  • The reprogramming efficiency
Ask a Question or View Topic

Challenges of Reprogramming Blood Cells

One of the challenges of reprogramming blood cells is the low frequency of certain cell types in peripheral blood. Peripheral blood cell types have varying reprogramming efficiencies, where efficiency is often inversely correlated with frequency in blood. For example, CD34+ hematopoietic stem and progenitors cells have relatively high reprogramming efficiencies, but are rare in circulating blood. In a previous blog post: Reprogramming Blood Cells: How to Decrease Variability in Your Workflow, we discussed some of the solutions that STEMCELL Technologies has developed to isolate and expand rare cell types, such as erythroid and CD34+ progenitor cells, from peripheral blood in order to obtain sufficient numbers for reprogramming.

Another common observed phenomenon is the emergence of partially reprogrammed colonies, usually associated with the continued expression of reprogramming factors. These cells are phenotypically diverse and often fail tests of pluripotency. While overall efficiency is lower, iPS cells that emerged under feeder-free conditions were fully reprogrammed, indicating the importance of culture conditions in the reprogramming process.

Join Wing Chang, Scientist at STEMCELL Technologies in this Ask the Expert Session, as we discuss the technical challenges of reprogramming blood cells, considerations when choosing the somatic cell type to be reprogrammed, implications of starting cell type on reprogramming efficiency and downstream differentiation, and other reprogramming questions.

Don’t miss this chance to have your reprogramming questions answered today!

Ask a Question or View Topic