Defined, Simplified, Scalable, and Clinically Compatible Hydrogel-Based Production of Human Brain Organoids

Organoids 2023 Volume 2, Issue 1, Pages 20-36

Human brain organoids present a new paradigm for modeling human brain organogenesis, providing unprecedented insight to the molecular and cellular processes of brain development and maturation. Other potential applications include in vitro models of disease and tissue trauma, as well as three-dimensional (3D) clinically relevant tissues for pharmaceuticals development and cell or tissue replacement. A key requirement for this emerging technology in both research and medicine is the simple, scalable, and reproducible generation of organoids using reliable, economical, and high-throughput culture platforms. Here we describe such a platform using a defined, clinically compliant, and readily available hydrogel generated from gelatin methacrylate (GelMA). We demonstrate the efficient production of organoids on GelMA from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), with scalable production attained using 3D printed GelMA-based multiwell arrays. The differentiation of iPSCs was systematic, rapid, and direct to enable iPSCs to form organoids in their original position following seeding on GelMA, thereby avoiding further cell and organoid disruption. Early neural precursors formed by day 5, neural rosettes and early-stage neurons by day 14, and organoids with cellular and regional heterogeneity, including mature and electrophysiologically active neurons, by day 28. The optimised method provides a simplified and well-defined platform for both research and translation of iPSCs and derivative brain organoids, enabling reliable 3D in vitro modelling and experimentation, as well as the provision of clinically relevant cells and tissues for future therapeutics.