In recent years, human embryonic stem (hES) cells have become a promising cell source for regenerative medicine. Although hES cells have the ability for unlimited self-renewal, potential adverse effects of long-term cell culture upon hES cells must be investigated before therapeutic applications of hES cells can be realized. Here we investigated changes in molecular profiles associated with young (<60 passages) and old (>120 passages) cells of the H9 hES cell line as well as young (<85 passages) and old (>120 passages) cells of the PKU1 hES cell line. Our results show that morphology, stem cell markers, and telomerase activity do not differ significantly between young and old passage cells. Cells from both age groups were also shown to differentiate into derivatives of all 3 germ layers upon spontaneous differentiation in vitro. Interestingly, mitochondrial dysfunction was found to occur with prolonged culture. Old passage cells of both the H9 and PKU1 lines were characterized by higher mitochondrial membrane potential, larger mitochondrial morphology, and higher reactive oxygen species content than their younger counterparts. Teratomas derived from higher passage cells were also found to have an uneven preference for differentiation compared with tumors derived from younger cells. These findings suggest that prolonged culture of hES cells may negatively impact mitochondrial function and possibly affect long-term pluripotency.
View details for DOI 10.1089/scd.2009.0475
View details for PubMedID 20629482