Direct Reprogramming of Mouse Fibroblasts to Neural Stem Cells by Small Molecules

Yanchuang Han, Yoon Lim, Michael Duffield, Hua Li, Jia Liu, Nimshitha Abdul Manaph, Miao Yang, Damien Keating, Xin-Fu Zhou

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    45 Citations (Scopus)


    Although it is possible to generate neural stem cells (NSC) from somatic cells by reprogramming technologies with transcription factors, clinical utilization of patient-specific NSC for the treatment of human diseases remains elusive. The risk hurdles are associated with viral transduction vectors induced mutagenesis, tumor formation from undifferentiated stem cells, and transcription factors-induced genomic instability. Here we describe a viral vector-free and more efficient method to induce mouse fibroblasts into NSC using small molecules. The small molecule-induced neural stem (SMINS) cells closely resemble NSC in morphology, gene expression patterns, self-renewal, excitability, and multipotency. Furthermore, the SMINS cells are able to differentiate into astrocytes, functional neurons, and oligodendrocytes in vitro and in vivo. Thus, we have established a novel way to efficiently induce neural stem cells (iNSC) from fibroblasts using only small molecules without altering the genome. Such chemical induction removes the risks associated with current techniques such as the use of viral vectors or the induction of oncogenic factors. This technique may, therefore, enable NSC to be utilized in various applications within clinical medicine.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number4304916
    Pages (from-to)Art: 4304916
    Number of pages11
    JournalStem Cells International
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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