Differentiation of human induced-pluripotent stem cells into smooth-muscle cells: Two novel protocols

Libang Yang, Zhaohui Geng, Thomas Nickel, Caitlin Johnson, Lin Gao, James R Dutton, Cody Hou, Jianyi J Zhang

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37 Scopus citations


Conventional protocols for differentiating human induced-pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) into smooth-muscle cells (SMCs) can be inefficient and generally fail to yield cells with a specific SMC phenotype (i.e., contractile or synthetic SMCs). Here, we present two novel hiPSC-SMC differentiation protocols that yield SMCs with predominantly contractile or synthetic phenotypes. Flow cytometry analyses of smooth-muscle actin (SMA) expression indicated that ∼45% of the cells obtained with each protocol assumed an SMC phenotype, and that the populations could be purified to ∼95% via metabolic selection. Assessments of cellular mRNA and/or protein levels indicated that SMA, myosin heavy chain II, collagen 1, calponin, transgelin, connexin 43, and vimentin expression in the SMCs obtained via the Contractile SMC protocol and in SMCs differentiated via a traditional protocol were similar, while SMCs produced via the Sythetic SMC protocol expressed less calponin, more collagen 1, and more connexin 43. Differences were also observed in functional assessments of the two SMC populations: the two-dimensional surface area of Contractile SMCs declined more extensively (to 12% versus 44% of original size) in response to carbachol treatment, while quantification of cell migration and proliferation were greater in Synthetic SMCs. Collectively, these data demonstrate that our novel differentiation protocols can efficiently generate SMCs from hiPSCs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number0147155
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Yang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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