Neuron-Glia Interactions Increase Neuronal Phenotypes in Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Patient iPSC-Derived Models


Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a rare neurodevelopmental disorder resulting from autosomal dominant mutations in the TSC1 or TSC2 genes, leading to a hyperactivated mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway, and gray and white matter defects in the brain. To study the involvement of neuron-glia interactions in TSC phenotypes, we generated TSC patient induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cortical neuronal and oligodendrocyte (OL) cultures. TSC neuron mono-cultures showed increased network activity, as measured by calcium transients and action potential firing, and increased dendritic branching. However, in co-cultures with OLs, neuronal defects became more apparent, showing cellular hypertrophy and increased axonal density. In addition, TSC neuron-OL co-cultures showed increased OL cell proliferation and decreased OL maturation. Pharmacological intervention with the mTOR regulator rapamycin suppressed these defects. Our patient iPSC-based model, therefore, shows a complex cellular TSC phenotype arising from the interaction of neuronal and glial cells and provides a platform for TSC disease modeling and drug development.

Keywords: autism; co-culture; glia; iPSC; in vitro model; myelin; neuron; neuronal activity; oligodendrocyte; tuberous sclerosis complex.


Aishwarya G Nadadhur, Mouhamed Alsaqati, Lisa Gasparotto, Paulien Cornelissen-Steijger, Eline van Hugte, Stephanie Dooves, Adrian J Harwood, Vivi M Heine