The hypothalamus is comprised of heterogenous cell populations and includes highly complex neural circuits that regulate the autonomic nerve system. Its dysfunction therefore results in severe endocrine disorders. Although recent experiments have been conducted for in vitro organogenesis of hypothalamic neurons from embryonic stem (ES) or induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, whether these stem cell-derived hypothalamic neurons can be useful for regenerative medicine remains unclear. We therefore performed orthotopic transplantation of mouse ES cell (mESC)-derived hypothalamic neurons into adult mouse brains. We generated electrophysiologically functional hypothalamic neurons from mESCs and transplanted them into the supraoptic nucleus of mice. Grafts extended their axons along hypothalamic nerve bundles in host brain, and some of them even projected into the posterior pituitary (PPit), which consists of distal axons of the magnocellular neurons located in hypothalamic supraoptic and paraventricular nuclei. The axonal projections to the PPit were not observed when the mESC-derived hypothalamic neurons were ectopically transplanted into the substantia nigra reticular part. These findings suggest that our stem cell-based orthotopic transplantation approach might contribute to the establishment of regenerative medicine for hypothalamic and pituitary disorders.
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