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Chimeric pigs harboring organs derived from human stem cells are promising for patient-specific regenerative therapies. Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can contribute to all cell types of the fetus, including germline after injection into embryos. However, ethical concerns prohibit testing human iPSCs in chimera assays. Here, we evaluated porcine embryos as hosts for an interspecies chimera assay using iPSCs from either cynomolgus monkeys (cyiPSCs) or mouse (miPSCs). To establish an in vitro culture system compatible for cyiPSCs and porcine embryos, we determined blastocyst development in eight different stem cell media. The highest developmental rates of blastocysts were achieved in Knockout Dulbecco's modified Eagle's medium with 20% knockout serum replacement. We found that cyiPSCs injected into porcine embryos survived in vitro and were mostly located in the trophectoderm (TE). Instead, when miPSCs were injected into porcine embryos, the cells rapidly proliferated. The behavior of chimeras developed in vitro was recapitulated in vivo; cyiPSCs were observed in the TE, but not in the porcine epiblast. However, when miPSCs were injected into in vivo derived porcine embryos, mouse cells were found in both, the epiblast and TE. These results demonstrate that porcine embryos could be useful for evaluating the interspecies chimera-forming ability of iPSCs from different species.


Monika Nowak-Imialek, Stephanie Wunderlich, Doris Herrmann, Svenja Breitschuh-Leibling, Gudrun Gohring, Björn Petersen, Sabine Klein, Ulrich Baulain, Andrea Lucas-Hahn, Ulrich Martin, Heiner Niemann. In Vitro and In Vivo Interspecies Chimera Assay Using Early Pig Embryos. Cellular reprogramming. 2020 Jun;22(3):118-133

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PMID: 32429746

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