Is teratoma assay still a gold standard to assess pluripotency?

by Alexey Bersenev on July 1, 2011 · 0 comments

in embryonic/iPS

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A year ago, group of researchers called for standardization of assays used in pluripotent stem cells identification. They wrote:

For mouse cells, the gold standard for proving pluripotency is germline transmission (Bradley et al., 1984), which demonstrates the ability to make all cell types, including germ cells. For human cells, the closest surrogate for the germline transmission assay is the generation in immunodeficient mice of human cell-derived teratomas, solid tumors that contain a mixture of differentiated tissues such a neurons, heart muscle, and secretory epithelia (Damjanov, 2005). Because of the rich variety of mature histologically distinct tissue types that develop, the teratoma assay is currently regarded as the most rigorous assay to prove pluripotency of human stem cells.

Unfortunately, although the end point of a germline transmission assay is simple (a mouse derived from cultured cells), the teratoma assay necessarily lacks this level of absolute clarity.
In spite of the gold standard status of the teratoma assay for determining pluripotency, we found that there was little consistency in either methods or reporting of results.

The authors proposed a list of criteria, which could be included in teratoma reporting system. They conclude:

We would like to promote the idea that having standards for reporting methods and results of teratoma assays will benefit the stem cell community, not only by making the assay more reproducible, but also by providing deeper knowledge about human development.

I was wondering, what have changed since then? Is teratoma assay still a gold standard to assess pluripotency? Jeanne Loring’s group recently have proposed a PluriTest as potential replacement of teratoma assay. What do you think about PluriTest and standard teratoma assay? Where field is moving? Share your thoughts and experience!

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