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The neurosteroid dehydroepiandrosterone could improve somatic cell reprogramming


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Expression of four major reprogramming transgenes, including Oct4, Sox2, Klf4 and c-myc, in somatic cells enables them to have pluripotency. These cells are iPSC (induced pluripotent stem cell) that currently show the greatest potential for differentiation into cells of the three germ lineages. One of the issues facing the successful reprogramming and clinical translation of iPSC technology is the high rate of apoptosis after the reprogramming process. Reprogramming is a stressful process, and the p53 apoptotic pathway plays a negative role in cell growth and self-renewal. Apoptosis via the p53 pathway serves as a major barrier in nuclear somatic cell reprogramming during iPSC generation. DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is an abundant steroid that is produced at high levels in the adrenal cells, and withdrawal of DHEA increases the levels of p53 in the epithelial and stromal cells, resulting in increased levels of apoptotic cells; meanwhile, DHEA decreases cellular apoptosis. DHEA could improve the efficacy of reprogramming yield due to a decrease in apoptosis via the p53 pathway and an increase in cell viability.