Development of guggulsterone-releasing microspheres for directing the differentiation of human induced pluripotent stem cells into neural phenotypes




Agbay, Andrew

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In the case of Parkinson’s disease, a common neurodegenerative disorder, the loss of motor function results from the selective degeneration of dopaminergic neurons (DNs) in the brain. Current treatments focus on pharmacological approaches that lose effectiveness over time and produce unwanted side effects. A more complete concept of rehabilitation to improve on current treatments requires the production of DNs to replace those that have been lost. Although pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) are a promising candidate for the source of these replacement neurons, current protocols for the terminal differentiation of DNs require a complicated cocktail of factors. Recently, a naturally occurring steroid called guggulsterone has been shown to be an effective terminal differentiator of DNs and can simplify the method for the production of such neurons. I therefore investigated the potential of long-term guggulsterone release from drug delivery particles in order to provide a proof of concept for producing DNs in a more economical and effective way. Throughout my study I was able to successfully encapsulate guggulsterone in Poly-ε-caprolactone (PCL)-based microspheres and I showed that the drug was capable of being released over 44 days in vitro. These guggulsterone-releasing microspheres were also successfully incorporated in human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC)-derived neural aggregates (NAs), providing the foundation to continue investigating their effectiveness in producing functional and mature DNs. Together, these data suggest that guggulsterone delivery from microspheres may be a promising approach for improving the production of implantable DNs from hiPSCs.



Parkinson's disease, Dopaminergic neurons, Steroids, Microspheres (Pharmacy)