Human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be used to generate brain organoids containing an eye structure called the optic cup, according to a study published August 17 in the journal Cell Stem Cell. The organoids spontaneously developed bilaterally symmetric optic cups from the front of the brain-like region, demonstrating the intrinsic self-patterning ability of iPSCs in a highly complex biological process.
“Our work highlights the remarkable ability of brain organoids to generate primitive sensory structures that are light sensitive and harbor cell types similar to those found in the body,” says senior study author Jay Gopalakrishnan of University Hospital Düsseldorf. “These organoids can help to study brain-eye interactions during embryo development, model congenital retinal disorders, and generate patient-specific retinal cell types for personalized drug testing and transplantation therapies.”
Many aspects of human brain development and diseases can be studied using 3D brain organoids derived from pluripotent stem cells, which can give rise to all cell types in the body. Researchers previously used human embryonic stem cells to generate the optic cup, which gives rise to the retina—the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye. Another study demonstrated that optic-cup-like structures can be generated from iPSCs, which are derived from adult cells that have been genetically reprogrammed back into an embryonic-like pluripotent state.