Embryonic stem cells (ES cells) are characterized by their pluripotency and infinite proliferation potential. Ever since ES cells were first established in 1981, there have been a growing number of studies aimed at clinical applications of ES cells. In recent years, various types of differentiation inducement systems using ES cells have been established. Further studies have been conducted to utilize differentiation inducement systems in the field of regenerative medicine. For cellular treatments using stem cells including ES cells, differentiation induction should be performed in a sufficient manner to obtain the intended cell lineages. Lignin is a high-molecular amorphous material that forms plants together with cellulose and hemicelluloses, in which phenylpropane fundamental units are complexly condensed. Lignin derivatives have been shown to have several bioactive functions. In spite of these findings, few studies have focused on the effects of lignin on stem cells. Our study aimed to develop a novel technology using lignin to effectively induce ES cells to differentiate into neuroectodermal cells including ocular cells and neural cells. Since lignin can be produced at a relatively low cost in large volumes, its utilization is expected for more convenient differentiation induction technologies and in the field of regenerative medicine in the future.
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