Transient Treatment of Human Pluripotent Stem Cells with DMSO to Promote Differentiation

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


Despite the growing use of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs), challenges in efficiently differentiating embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cells (ESCs and iPSCs) across various lineages remain. Numerous differentiation protocols have been developed, yet variability across cell lines and low rates of differentiation impart challenges in successfully implementing these protocols. Described here is an easy and inexpensive means to enhance the differentiation capacity of PSCs. It has been previously shown that treatment of stem cells with a low concentration of dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) significantly increases the propensity of a variety of PSCs to differentiate to different cell types following directed differentiation. This technique has now been shown to be effective across different species (e.g., mouse, primate, and human) into multiple lineages, ranging from neurons and cortical spheroids to smooth muscle cells and hepatocytes. The DMSO pretreatment improves PSC differentiation by regulating the cell cycle and priming stem cells to be more responsive to differentiation signals. Provided here is the detailed methodology for using this simple tool as a reproducible and widely applicable means to more efficiently differentiate PSCs to any lineage of choice.