Published online Dec 31, 2009. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v1.i1.11
Revised: December 14, 2009
Accepted: December 21, 2009
Published online: December 31, 2009
Embryonic stem (ES) cells have the ability to differentiate into all germ layers, holding great promise not only for a model of early embryonic development but also for a robust cell source for cell-replacement therapies and for drug screening. Embryoid body (EB) formation from ES cells is a common method for producing different cell lineages for further applications. However, conventional techniques such as hanging drop or static suspension culture are either inherently incapable of large scale production or exhibit limited control over cell aggregation during EB formation and subsequent EB aggregation. For standardized mass EB production, a well defined scale-up platform is necessary. Recently, novel scenario methods of EB formation in hydrodynamic conditions created by bioreactor culture systems using stirred suspension systems (spinner flasks), rotating cell culture system and rotary orbital culture have allowed large-scale EB formation. Their use allows for continuous monitoring and control of the physical and chemical environment which is difficult to achieve by traditional methods. This review summarizes the current state of production of EBs derived from pluripotent cells in various culture systems. Furthermore, an overview of high quality EB formation strategies coupled with systems for in vitro differentiation into various cell types to be applied in cell replacement therapy is provided in this review. Recently, new insights in induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell technology showed that differentiation and lineage commitment are not irreversible processes and this has opened new avenues in stem cell research. These cells are equivalent to ES cells in terms of both self-renewal and differentiation capacity. Hence, culture systems for expansion and differentiation of iPS cells can also apply methodologies developed with ES cells, although direct evidence of their use for iPS cells is still limited.