Fear of Immune Response to Induced Stem Cells Overstated

Induced pluripotent stem cells

Induced pluripotent stem cells.

Scientists report that induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS) have a similar immune response in mice as embryonic stem cells (ES).

The scientists published their findings in the journal Nature.[1] Back in 2007, scientists first reported that cells could be reprogrammed to an embryo-like state. Medical researchers wanted to use these iPS cells to create an endless supply of genetically matched replacement tissues to treat a range of diseases, from diabetes to Parkinson’s.

This strategy seemed to offer a way around the ethical issues of using stem cells derived from human embryos. However, researchers started to worry about potential side effects. A 2011 study[2] showed that iPS cells provoked an immune response when injected into mice from which they had been derived.

The new study rejects that conclusion. Masumi Abe, a geneticist at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba, Japan, and his team took iPS cells derived from mice and injected them back into the animals. They compared this to mice that were injected with ES cells. The team found no differences between the immune responses of each group. They also transplanted skin and bone-marrow cells derived from iPS or ES cells into mice and achieved similar success rates.


  1. “Negligible immunogenicity of terminally differentiated cells derived from induced pluripotent or embryonic stem cells” by Ryoko Araki, Masahiro Uda, Yuko Hoki, Misato Sunayama, Miki Nakamura, Shunsuke Ando, Mayumi Sugiura, Hisashi Ideno, Akemi Shimada, Akira Nifuji and Masumi Abe, 9 January 2013, Nature.
    DOI: 10.1038/nature11807
  2. “Substrate-modulated gating dynamics in a Na+-coupled neurotransmitter transporter homologue” by Yongfang Zhao, Daniel S. Terry, Lei Shi, Matthias Quick, Harel Weinstein, Scott C. Blanchard and Jonathan A. Javitch, 24 April 2011, Nature.
    DOI: 10.1038/nature09971

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