Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-releasing interneurons modulate neuronal network activity in the brain by inhibiting other neurons. The alteration or absence of these cells disrupts the balance between excitatory and inhibitory processes, leading to neurological disorders such as epilepsy. In this regard, cell-based therapy may be an alternative therapeutic approach. We generated light-sensitive human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived GABAergic interneurons (hdIN) and tested their functionality. After 35 days in vitro (DIV), hdINs showed electrophysiological properties and spontaneous synaptic currents comparable to mature neurons. In co-culture with human cortical neurons and after transplantation (AT) into human brain tissue resected from patients with drug-resistant epilepsy, light-activated channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) expressing hdINs induced postsynaptic currents in human neurons, strongly suggesting functional efferent synapse formation. These results provide a proof-of-concept that hESC-derived neurons can integrate and modulate the activity of a human host neuronal network. Therefore, this study supports the possibility of precise temporal control of network excitability by transplantation of light-sensitive interneurons.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22050
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Dec

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurosciences


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