Induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-based disease modeling has a great potential for uncovering the mechanisms of pathogenesis, especially in the case of neurodegenerative diseases where disease-susceptible cells can usually not be obtained from patients. So far, the iPSC-based modeling of neurodegenerative diseases has mainly focused on neurons because the protocols for generating astrocytes from iPSCs have not been fully established. The growing evidence of astrocytes' contribution to neurodegenerative diseases has underscored the lack of iPSC-derived astrocyte models. In the present study, we established a protocol to efficiently generate iPSC-derived astrocytes (iPasts), which were further characterized by RNA and protein expression profiles as well as functional assays. iPasts exhibited calcium dynamics and glutamate uptake activity comparable to human primary astrocytes. Moreover, when co-cultured with neurons, iPasts enhanced neuronal synaptic maturation. Our protocol can be used for modeling astrocyte-related disease phenotypes in vitro and further exploring the contribution of astrocytes to neurodegenerative diseases.
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