Cell maturation influences the ability of hESC-RPE to tolerate cellular stress

Taina Viheriälä, Heidi Hongisto, Juhana Sorvari, Heli Skottman, Soile Nymark, Tanja Ilmarinen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Background: Transplantation of human pluripotent stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) is an urgently needed treatment for the cure of degenerative diseases of the retina. The transplanted cells must tolerate cellular stress caused by various sources such as retinal inflammation and regain their functions rapidly after the transplantation. We have previously shown the maturation level of the cultured human embryonic stem cell-derived RPE (hESC-RPE) cells to influence for example their calcium (Ca2+) signaling properties. Yet, no comparison of the ability of hESC-RPE at different maturity levels to tolerate cellular stress has been reported. Methods: Here, we analyzed the ability of the hESC-RPE populations with early (3 weeks) and late (12 weeks) maturation status to tolerate cellular stress caused by chemical cell stressors protease inhibitor (MG132) or hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). After the treatments, the functionality of the RPE cells was studied by transepithelial resistance, immunostainings of key RPE proteins, phagocytosis, mitochondrial membrane potential, Ca2+ signaling, and cytokine secretion. Results: The hESC-RPE population with late maturation status consistently showed improved tolerance to cellular stress in comparison to the population with early maturity. After the treatments, the early maturation status of hESC-RPE monolayer showed impaired barrier properties. The hESC-RPE with early maturity status also exhibited reduced phagocytic and Ca2+ signaling properties, especially after MG132 treatment. Conclusions: Our results suggest that due to better tolerance to cellular stress, the late maturation status of hESC-RPE population is superior compared to monolayers with early maturation status in the transplantation therapy settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
Number of pages15
JournalStem Cell Research and Therapy
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cell therapy
  • Human pluripotent stem cells
  • Oxidative stress
  • Retinal pigment epithelial cells

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Cell Biology


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