Journal of cellular and molecular medicine

17β-Oestradiol promotes differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into dopamine neurons via cross-talk between insulin-like growth factors-1 and oestrogen receptor β.

PMID 28244646


Human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can self-renew and differentiate into all cell lineages. E2 is known to exhibit positive effects on embryo development. Although the importance of E2 in many physiological processes has been reported, to date few researchers have investigated the effects of E2 on hESCs differentiation. We studied the effects of E2 on dopamine (DA) neuron induction of hESCs and its related signalling pathways using the three-stage protocol. In our study, 0.1 μM E2 were applied to hESCs-derived human embryoid bodies (hEBs) and effects of E2 on neural cells differentiation were investigated. Protein and mRNA level assay indicated that E2 up-regulated the expression of insulin-like growth factors (IGF)-1, ectoderm, neural precursor cells (NPC) and DA neuron markers, respectively. The population of hESC-derived NPCs and DA neurons was increased to 92% and 93% to that of DMSO group, respectively. Furthermore, yield of DA neuron-secreted tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and dopamine was also increased. E2-caused promotion was relieved in single inhibitor (ICI or JB1) group partly, and E2 effects were repressed more stronger in inhibitors combination (ICI plus JB1) group than in single inhibitor group at hEBs, hNPCs and hDA neurons stages. Owing to oestrogen receptors regulate multiple brain functions, when single or two inhibitors were used to treat neural differentiation stage, we found that oestrogen receptor (ER)β but not ERα is strongly repressed at the hNPCs and hDA neurons stage. These findings, for the first time, demonstrate the molecular cascade and related cell biology events involved in E2-improved hNPC and hDA neuron differentiation through cross-talk between IGF-1 and ERβ in vitro.