1General Surgery Department, Xin Hua Hospital of Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China and 2Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston Salem, NC, USA
Hypothyroidism is a very common hormonal deficiency and the stem cell technology which developed in the recent years may offer a therapeutic strategy for treating this disorder. Hypoxia has been demonstrated to play an important role in embryonic formation and development and to modulate stem cell differentiation. However, the influence of oxygen tension on thyroid differentiation has not been studied. In this study, we used murine induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells for thyroid cell differentiation under normoxic and hypoxic conditions and compared differentiation efficiency in morphology, function, gene and protein expression under both conditions. We found that hypoxia promoted adhesion and outgrowth of embryoid bodies (EBs) derived from murine iPS cells. Expression of endodermal markers (Foxa2 and Gata4) and thyroid transcription factors (Pax8 and Nkx2.1) was increased by hypoxia at both gene and protein levels during early-mid differentiation stages (p<0.05). And so were the thyroid specific markers NIS and TSHR at the end of the experiment (p<0.05). In addition, functional iodide uptake by differentiated cells was also increased after hypoxia. Thyroid differentiation from iPS cells is enhanced under hypoxia and this may involve hypoxia inducible factors (HIFs) and their downstream gene FGF2. Our data offer a foundation for understanding thyroid development and provide a potentially more efficient way to use cell therapy for treating thyroid deficiency.