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Co-stimulation with IL-1β and TNF-α induces an inflammatory reactive astrocyte phenotype with neurosupportive characteristics in a human pluripotent stem cell model system

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Original languageEnglish
Article number16944(2019)
Number of pages15
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2019
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Astrocyte reactivation has been discovered to be an important contributor to several neurological diseases. In vitro models involving human astrocytes have the potential to reveal disease-specific mechanisms of these cells and to advance research on neuropathological conditions. Here, we induced a reactive phenotype in human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived astrocytes and studied the inflammatory natures and effects of these cells on human neurons. Astrocytes responded to interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) treatment with a typical transition to polygonal morphology and a shift to an inflammatory phenotype characterized by altered gene and protein expression profiles. Astrocyte-secreted factors did not exert neurotoxic effects, whereas they transiently promoted the functional activity of neurons. Importantly, we engineered a novel microfluidic platform designed for investigating interactions between neuronal axons and reactive astrocytes that also enables the implementation of a controlled inflammatory environment. In this platform, selective stimulation of astrocytes resulted in an inflammatory niche that sustained axonal growth, further suggesting that treatment induces a reactive astrocyte phenotype with neurosupportive characteristics. Our findings show that hiPSC-derived astrocytes are suitable for modeling astrogliosis, and the developed in vitro platform provides promising novel tools for studying neuron-astrocyte crosstalk and human brain disease in a dish.

Publication forum classification

Field of science, Statistics Finland