MATERIALS AND METHODS: Neural induction was carried out with a small molecule cocktail based two-step culture protocol, over a total duration of 14 days. At the 8 and 14 day timepoints, the cells were analyzed for expression of neural markers with immunocytochemistry, qRT-PCR and Western Blot. The Fluo 4-AM calcium flux assay was also performed after a further 14 days of neural maturation.
RESULTS: More pronounced morphological changes characteristic of the neural lineage (i.e. neuritogenesis) were observed in all three cell types treated with small molecules, as compared to the untreated controls. This was corroborated by the immunocytochemistry, qRT-PCR and western blot data, which showed upregulated expression of several early and mature neural markers in all three cell types treated with small molecules, versus the corresponding untreated controls. Finally, the Fluo-4 AM calcium flux assay showed consistently higher calcium transient (F/Fo) peaks for the small molecule-treated versus untreated control groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Small molecules can enhance the neurogenic differentiation of DPSCs, SCAPs and GMSCs, which offer much potential for therapeutic applications.