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Keywords:

  • human embryonic stem cells;
  • embryoid bodies;
  • differentiation;
  • bioreactors;
  • rotating wall vessels

Abstract

The promise of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) to provide an unlimited supply of cells for cell therapy and tissue engineering depends on the availability of a controllable bioprocess for their expansion and differentiation. We describe for the first time the formation of differentiating human embryoid bodies (hEBs) in rotating bioreactors to try and control their agglomeration. The efficacy of the dynamic process compared to static cultivation in Petri dishes was analyzed with respect to the yield of hEB formation and differentiation. Quantitative analyses of hEBs, DNA and protein contents, and viable cell concentration, as measures for culture cellularity and scale-up, revealed 3-fold enhancement in generation of hEBs compared to the static culture. Other metabolic indices such as glucose consumption, lactic acid production, and pH pointed to efficient cell expansion and differentiation in the dynamic cultures. The type of rotating vessel had a significant impact on the process of hEB formation and agglomeration. In the slow turning lateral vessel (STLV), hEBs were smaller in size and no large necrotic centers were seen, even after 1-month cultivation. In the high aspect rotating vessel (HARV), hEB agglomeration was massive. The appearance of representative tissues derived from the three germ layers as well as primitive neuronal tube organization, blood vessel formation, and specific-endocrine secretion indicated that the initial developmental events are not altered in the dynamically formed hEBs. Collectively, our study defines the culture conditions in which control over the aggregation of differentiating hESCs is obtained, thus enabling scaleable cell production for clinical and industrial applications. © 2004 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.