Astrocytes are emerging key players in neurological disorders. However, their role in disease etiology is poorly understood owing to inaccessibility of primary human astrocytes. Pluripotent stem cell-derived cells fail to mimic age and due to their clonal origin do not mimic genetic heterogeneity of patients. In contrast, direct conversion constitutes an attractive approach to generate human astrocytes that capture age and genetic diversity. We describe efficient direct conversion of human fibroblasts to functional induced astrocytes (iAs). Expression of the minimal combination Sox9 and Nfib generates iAs with molecular, phenotypic, and functional properties resembling primary human astrocytes. iAs could be obtained by conversion of fibroblasts covering the entire human lifespan. Importantly, iAs supported function of induced neurons obtained through direct conversion from the same fibroblast population. Fibroblast-derived iAs will become a useful tool to elucidate the biology of astrocytes and complement current in vitro models for studies of late-onset neurological disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1620-1635
Number of pages16
JournalStem Cell Reports
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Jul 12

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurosciences

Free keywords

  • astrocytes
  • direct conversion
  • fibroblasts
  • neurodegenerative diseases
  • neurons
  • Nfia
  • Nfib
  • Sox9
  • transcription factors
  • transdifferentiation


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