, Volume 44, Issue 1–2, pp 77–91 | Cite as

Assessment of Stem Cell Markers During Long-Term Culture of Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells

  • A. Berrill
  • H.L. Tan
  • S.C. Wuang
  • W.J. Fong
  • Andre B.H. Choo
  • Steve K.W. Oh


Embryonic stem (ES) cells have been in the fore front of scientific literature lately as having the potential for regeneration of many tissue types. Two important issues that need to be addressed are the culture conditions for maintaining ES cells and the accuracy of ES cell markers in monitoring the undifferentiated state. Leukaemia inhibitory factor (LIF) is routinely used to sustain mouse ES cells (mES) in a pluripotent fashion. In this paper, we assessed three markers during long-term maintenance of ES cells with various concentrations of LIF to see if decreasing concentration would lead to changes in marker expressions and growth behavior. Common markers of pluripotency such as alkaline phosphatase enzyme activity (ALP), surface staining for stage specific embryonic antigen 1 (SSEA-1), Oct-4 transcription factor, cell doubling time, as well as visual observations of cell morphology were analyzed during long-term maintenance of mES cells with LIF concentrations ranging from 0 to 500 pM. The morphology of the cells at LIF concentrations of 0 25 pM changed from being tight clusters to more flattened shapes while cells in 50–500 pM retained the clustered shape but growth rates remained essentially identical at between 10 and 16 h. ES cells at all concentrations of LIF continued expressing ALP, SSEA-1 and Oct-4 markers over a period of 6 weeks, which indicate that mES cells are capable of either producing autocrine LIF or are able to proliferate at very low levels of LIF. Pluripotency markers such as Oct-4 and SSEA-1 are only moderately reduced after 5–6 weeks. Oct-4 mRNA expression levels were partially diminished in LIF free conditions only at weeks 5 and 6 compared to controls with LIF at 500 pM. Changes in morphology of cells by visual observation seemed to be a faster indication of the onset of differentiation in mES cells, although other reliable means also include decreased levels of Oct-4, SSEA-1 and ALP markers. It is preferable to maintain long-term cultures of mES cells above 50 pM of LIF to have a more homogenous, stable population of pluripotent cells.

Alkaline phosphatase Leukaemia inhibitory factor SSEA-1 Oct-4 Pluripotency Stem cell culture 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Berrill
  • H.L. Tan
  • S.C. Wuang
  • W.J. Fong
  • Andre B.H. Choo
  • Steve K.W. Oh

There are no affiliations available

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