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Human epidermal neural crest stem cells (hEPI-NCSC) - Characterization and directed differentiation into osteocytes and melanocytes

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Oliver Clewes, Alla Narytnyk, Kevin Gillinder, Andrew Loughney, Professor Alison Murdoch, Professor Maya Sieber-Blum


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Here we describe the isolation, characterisation and ex-vivo expansion of human epidermal neural crest stem cells (hEPI-NCSC) and we provide protocols for their directed differentiation into osteocytes and melanocytes. hEPI-NCSC are neural crest-derived multipotent stem cells that persist into adulthood in the bulge of hair follicles. Multipotency and self-renewal were determined by in vitro clonal analyses. hEPI-NCSC generate all major neural crest derivatives, including bone/cartilage cells, neurons, Schwann cells, myofibroblasts and melanocytes. Furthermore, hEPI-NCSC express additional neural crest stem cell markers and global stem cell genes. To variable degrees and in a donor-dependent manner, hEPI-NCSC express the six essential pluripotency genes C-MYC, KLF4, SOX2, LIN28, OCT-4/POU5F1 and NANOG. hEPI-NCSC can be expanded ex vivo into millions of stem cells that remain mulitpotent and continue to express stem cell genes. The novelty of hEPI-NCSC lies in the combination of their highly desirable traits. hEPI-NCSC are embryonic remnants in a postnatal location, the bulge of hair follicles. Therefore they are readily accessible in the hairy skin by minimal invasive procedure. hEPI-NCSC are multipotent somatic stem cells that can be isolated reproducibly and with high yield. By taking advantage of their migratory ability, hEPI-NCSC can be isolated as a highly pure population of stem cells. hEPI-NCSC can undergo robust ex vivo expansion and directed differentiation. As somatic stem cells, hEPI-NCSC are conducive to autologous transplantation, which avoids graft rejection. Together, these traits make hEPI-NCSC novel and attractive candidates for future cell-based therapies and regenerative medicine.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Clewes O, Narytnyk A, Gillinder KR, Loughney AD, Murdoch AP, Sieber-Blum M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Stem Cell Reviews and Reports

Year: 2011

Volume: 7

Issue: 4

Pages: 799-814

Print publication date: 01/04/2011

ISSN (print): 1550-8943

ISSN (electronic): 1558-6804

Publisher: Humana Press, Inc.


DOI: 10.1007/s12015-011-9255-5


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Funder referenceFunder name
North East England Stem Cell Institute, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
Plunkett Family Foundation, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
22358Medical Research Council UK
R01 NS038500-04S1National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke, NIH, USA