Xenografting is widely used for assessing in vivo pluripotency of human stem cell populations. Here, we report on early to late events in the development of mature experimental teratoma from a well-characterized human embryonic stem cell (HESC) line, HS181. The results show an embryonic process, increasingly chaotic. Active proliferation of the stem cell derived cellular progeny was detected already at day 5, and characterized by the appearance of multiple sites of engraftment, with structures of single or pseudostratified columnar epithelium surrounding small cavities. The striking histological resemblance to developing embryonic ectoderm, and the formation of epiblast-like structures was supported by the expression of the markers OCT4, NANOG, SSEA-4 and KLF4, but a lack of REX1. The early neural marker NESTIN was uniformly expressed, while markers linked to gastrulation, such as BMP-4, NODAL or BRACHYURY were not detected. Thus, observations on day 5 indicated differentiation comparable to the most early transient cell populations in human post implantation development. Confirming and expanding on previous findings from HS181 xenografts, these early events were followed by an increasingly chaotic development, incorporated in the formation of a benign teratoma with complex embryonic components. In the mature HS181 teratomas not all types of organs/tissues were detected, indicating a restricted differentiation, and a lack of adequate spatial developmental cues during the further teratoma formation. Uniquely, a kinetic alignment of rare complex structures was made to human embryos at diagnosed gestation stages, showing minor kinetic deviations between HS181 teratoma and the human counterpart.
2011. Vol. 6, no 11, e27741- p.