Vascularized Brain Assembloids With Enhanced Cellular Complexity Provide Insights Into the Cellular Deficits of Tauopathy

Xiaohuan Sun, Simeon Kofman, Victor C. Ogbolu, Celeste M. Karch, Larisa Ibric, Liang Qiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Advanced technologies have enabled the engineering of self-organized 3-dimensional (3D) cellular structures from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), namely organoids, which recapitulate some key features of tissue development and functions of the human central nervous system (CNS). While hiPSC-derived 3D CNS organoids hold promise in providing a human-specific platform for studying CNS development and diseases, most of them do not incorporate the full range of implicated cell types, including vascular cell components and microglia, limiting their ability to accurately recreate the CNS environment and their utility in the study of certain aspects of the disease. Here we have developed a novel approach, called vascularized brain assembloids, for constructing hiPSC-derived 3D CNS structures with a higher level of cellular complexity. This is achieved by integrating forebrain organoids with common myeloid progenitors and phenotypically stabilized human umbilical vein endothelial cells (VeraVecs), which can be cultured and expanded in serum-free conditions. Compared with organoids, these assembloids exhibited enhanced neuroepithelial proliferation, advanced astrocytic maturation, and increased synapse numbers. Strikingly, the assembloids derived from hiPSCs harboring the tauP301S mutation exhibited increased levels of total tau and phosphorylated tau, along with a higher proportion of rod-like microglia-like cells and enhanced astrocytic activation, when compared to the assembloids derived from isogenic hiPSCs. Additionally, the tauP301S assembloids showed an altered profile of neuroinflammatory cytokines. This innovative assembloid technology serves as a compelling proof-of-concept model, opening new avenues for unraveling the intricate complexities of the human brain and accelerating progress in the development of effective treatments for neurological disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)107-115
Number of pages9
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • brain assembloid
  • brain organoid
  • human induced pluripotent stem cells
  • tauopathy


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