Hair cells are important for maintaining our sense of hearing and balance. However, they are difficult to regenerate in mammals once they are lost. Clarification of the molecular mechanisms underlying inner ear disorders is also impeded by the anatomical limitation of experimental access to the human inner ear. Therefore, the generation of hair cells, possibly from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, is important for regenerative therapy and studies of inner ear diseases. Results: We generated hair cells from mouse iPS cells using an established stepwise induction protocol. First, iPS cells were differentiated into the ectodermal lineage by floating culture. Next, they were treated with basic fibroblast growth factor to induce otic progenitor cells. Finally, the cells were co-cultured with three kinds of mouse utricle tissues: stromal tissue, stromal tissue + sensory epithelium, and the extracellular matrix of stromal tissue. Hair cell-like cells were successfully generated from iPS cells using mouse utricle stromal tissues. However, no hair cell-like cells with hair bundle-like structures were formed using other tissues. Conclusions: Hair cell-like cells were induced from mouse iPS cells using mouse utricle stromal tissues. Certain soluble factors from mouse utricle stromal cells might be important for induction of hair cells from iPS cells.
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