Seungmi Ryu, Claire Weber, Pei-Hsuan Chu, Carlos A. Tristan, Ben Ernest, Vukasin M.
Jovanovic, Tao Deng, Jaroslav Slamecka, Hyenjong Hong, John Braisted, Marissa Hirst,
Anton Simeonov, Ty C. Voss, Ilyas Singeç
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), Stem Cell Translation Laboratory (SCTL), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Rockville, MD, USA.
Embryoid bodies (EBs) and self-organizing organoids derived from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) recapitulate tissue development in a dish and hold great promise for disease modeling and drug development. However, current protocols are hampered by cellular stress and apoptosis during cell aggregation, resulting in variability and impaired cell differentiation. Here, we demonstrate that EBs and various organoid models (e.g., brain, gut, and kidney) can be optimized by using the CEPT small molecule cocktail, a polypharmacology approach that ensures cytoprotection and cell survival. Application of CEPT (chroman 1, emricasan, polyamines, trans-ISRIB) for just 24 hours during cell aggregation has long-lasting consequences affecting morphogenesis, gene expression, and cellular differentiation. Various qualification methods confirmed that CEPT treatment consistently improved EB and organoid fitness as compared to the widely used ROCK inhibitor Y-27632. Collectively, we discovered that stress-free cell aggregation and superior cell survival in the presence of CEPT are critical quality control determinants that establish a robust foundation for bioengineering complex tissue and organ models.