Allogeneic fetal-derived human neural stem cells (hfNSCs) that are under clinical evaluation for several neurodegenerative diseases display a favorable safety profile, but require immunosuppression upon transplantation in patients. Neural progenitors derived from patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) may be relevant for autologous ex vivo gene-therapy applications to treat genetic diseases with unmet medical need. In this scenario, obtaining iPSC-derived neural stem cells (NSCs) showing a reliable "NSC signature" is mandatory. Here, we generated human iPSC (hiPSC) clones via reprogramming of skin fibroblasts derived from normal donors and patients affected by metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), a fatal neurodegenerative lysosomal storage disease caused by genetic defects of the arylsulfatase A (ARSA) enzyme. We differentiated hiPSCs into NSCs (hiPS-NSCs) sharing molecular, phenotypic, and functional identity with hfNSCs, which we used as a "gold standard" in a side-by-side comparison when validating the phenotype of hiPS-NSCs and predicting their performance after intracerebral transplantation. Using lentiviral vectors, we efficiently transduced MLD hiPSCs, achieving supraphysiological ARSA activity that further increased upon neural differentiation. Intracerebral transplantation of hiPS-NSCs into neonatal and adult immunodeficient MLD mice stably restored ARSA activity in the whole central nervous system. Importantly, we observed a significant decrease of sulfatide storage when ARSA-overexpressing cells were used, with a clear advantage in those mice receiving neonatal as compared with adult intervention. Thus, we generated a renewable source of ARSA-overexpressing iPSC-derived bona fide hNSCs with improved features compared with clinically approved hfNSCs. Patient-specific ARSA-overexpressing hiPS-NSCs may be used in autologous ex vivo gene therapy protocols to provide long-lasting enzymatic supply in MLD-affected brains. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2017;6:352-368.
- Journal Article