A Novel UPLC-MS Metabolomic Analysis-Based Strategy to Monitor the Course and Extent of iPSC Differentiation to Hepatocytes

Marta Moreno-Torres, Manoj Kumar, Guillem García-Llorens, Guillermo Quintás, Tine Tricot, Ruben Boon, Laia Tolosa, Burak Toprakhisar, Francois Chesnais, Catherine Verfaillie, José V. Castell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Typical protocols to differentiate induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from hepatocyte-like cells (HLCs) imply complex strategies that include transfection with key hepatic transcription factors and the addition to culture media of nutrients, growth factors, and cytokines. A main constraint to evaluate the hepatic phenotype achieved arises from the way the grade of differentiation is determined. Currently, it relies on the assessment of the expression of a limited number of hepatic gene transcripts, less frequently by assessing certain hepatic metabolic functions, and rarely by the global metabolic performance of differentiated cells. We envisaged a new strategy to assess the extent of differentiation achieved, based on the analysis of the cellular metabolome along the differentiation process and its quantitative comparison with that of primary human hepatocytes (PHHs). To validate our approach, we examined the changes in the metabolome of three iPSC progenies (transfected with/without key transcription factors), cultured in three differentiation media, and compared them to PHHs. Results revealed consistent metabolome changes along differentiation and evidenced the factors that more strongly promote changes in the metabolome. The integrated dissimilarities between the PHHs and HLCs retrieved metabolomes were used as a numerical reference for quantifying the degree of iPSCs differentiation. This newly developed metabolome-analysis approach evidenced its utility in assisting us to select a cell's source, culture conditions, and differentiation media, to achieve better-differentiated HLCs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-712
Number of pages11
Issue number3
Early online date4 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 4 Mar 2022


  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry


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