Conversion of human urine-derived cells into neuron-like cells by small molecules

Donghui Liu, Grigori Rychkov, Mohammed Al-Hawwas, Nimshitha Pavathuparambil Abdul Manaph, Fiona Zhou, Larisa Bobrovskaya, Hong Liao, Xin Fu Zhou

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Neural cell transplantation is an effective way for treatment of neurological diseases. However, the absence of transplantable human neurons remains a barrier for clinical therapies. Human urine-derived cells, namely renal cells and urine stem cells, have become a good source of cells for reprogramming or trans-differentiation research. Here, we show that human urine-derived cells can be partially converted into neuron-like cells by applying a cocktail of small molecules. Gene expression analysis has shown that these induced cells expressed some neuron-specific genes, and a proportion of the cells are GABAergic neurons. Moreover, whole-cell patch clamping recording has shown that some induced cells have neuron-specific voltage gated Na+ and K+ currents but have failed to generate Ca2+ currents and action potentials. Taken together, these results suggest that induced neuronal cells from human urine-derived cells may be useful for neurological disease modelling, drug screening and cell therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2713-2722
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular Biology Reports
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 1 Apr 2020


  • Induced neuronal cells
  • Small molecules
  • Stem cells
  • Trans-differentiation
  • Urine-derived cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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