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Interpretive Summary: The induced pluripotent stem cells from farm animals

By: Anne Kamiya, MS

Pluripotent stem cells (PSC) are immature embryo-derived cells that may transform into any cell type. Unlike PSCs, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) are derived from reprogrammed somatic, or mature cells, bypassing the need for embryonic stem cells. In animal science, farm animal-specific iPSCs is especially critical for animal reproduction and disease modeling studies. However, most iPSC development is currently focused on human and rodent cell lines. There is significant need for more research and development into farm animal-based iPSC.

In this recent Journal of Animal Science study, authors reviewed and assessed the current status of iPSC research and development in farm animals. They also discussed potential milestones and roadblocks in developing bona fide iPSC lines for swine, ruminants, caprine, equine and avian farm animal species. The reprogramming of somatic cells into iPSCs in farm animals is currently incomplete, with bovine iPSCs being particularly problematic. Methods that were successful in reprogramming somatic human and rodent cells into iPSCs are not working for iPSCs derived from farm animal somatic cells. Despite numerous in vivo and in vitro studies aiming to develop an effective method for farm animal iPSCs, a recurrent hindrance is the failure to properly activate endogenous pluripotent networks without transgene expression. The iPSC lines subsequently cannot be maintained and successful reprogramming of the mature cell to an immature one ultimately fails.

Overall, this paper emphasizes the need for more focus and funding into the research and development of bona fide iPSC lines in farm animals. Problems in developing farm animal iPSCs may be due to fundamental differences in the somatic cells of farm animals, when compared to humans and rodents. The authors suggest that further studies into successfully reprograming farm animal iPSCs may involve microRNAs, epigenomics, and/or DNA and histone methylation and acetylation.

The original article, The induced pluripotent stem cells from farm animals, will soon be available in the Journal of Animal Science.