Induced pluripotent stem cell (IPSC)–based methods have become important research tools for developmental biology and molecular medicine. Reprogramming of somatic cells of either healthy or diseased individuals by the application of specific transgenes results in pluripotent and self-renewable cell lines that can be used to generate different cell types in vitro while still maintaining the genetic architecture of the donor.
The prospect of IPSC models is especially tantalizing when it comes to investigating the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Multiple lines of evidence support the neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia, which postulates that early developmental brain alterations lead to increased vulnerability for schizophrenia in adolescence and early adulthood. Until recently, investigation of the developmental origins of schizophrenia using human neurons has been all but impossible. However, with the discovery of IPSC models, it is now plausible that such faulty neurodevelopment could be recapitulated in vitro through neural progenitor cells (NPCs) and their differentiation to neurons.
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