Cells 2018 05 087(5) pii 10.3390/cells7050038
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and induced neuronal (iN) cells are very much touted in terms of their potential promises in therapeutics. However, from a more fundamental perspective, iPSCs and iNs are invaluable tools for the postnatal generation of specific diseased cell types from patients, which may offer insights into disease etiology that are otherwise unobtainable with available animal or human proxies. There are two good recent examples of such important insights with diseased neurons derived via either the iPSC or iN approaches. In one, induced motor neurons (iMNs) derived from iPSCs of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/Frontotemporal dementia (ALS/FTD) patients with a repeat expansion revealed a haploinsufficiency of protein function resulting from the intronic expansion and deficiencies in motor neuron vesicular trafficking and lysosomal biogenesis that were not previously obvious in knockout mouse models. In another, striatal medium spinal neurons (MSNs) derived from fibroblasts of Huntington’s disease (HD) patients recapitulated age-associated disease signatures of mutant Huntingtin (mHTT) aggregation and neurodegeneration that were not prominent in neurons differentiated indirectly via iPSCs from HD patients. These results attest to the tremendous potential for pathologically accurate and mechanistically revealing disease modelling with advances in the derivation of iPSCs and iNs.