In vitro Models for Seizure-Liability Testing Using Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Alastair I. Grainger, Marianne C. King, David A. Nagel, H. Rheinallt Parri, Michael D. Coleman, Eric J. Hill*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The brain is the most complex organ in the body, controlling our highest functions, as well as regulating myriad processes which incorporate the entire physiological system. The effects of prospective therapeutic entities on the brain and central nervous system (CNS) may potentially cause significant injury, hence, CNS toxicity testing forms part of the “core battery” of safety pharmacology studies. Drug-induced seizure is a major reason for compound attrition during drug development. Currently, the rat ex vivo hippocampal slice assay is the standard option for seizure-liability studies, followed by primary rodent cultures. These models can respond to diverse agents and predict seizure outcome, yet controversy over the relevance, efficacy, and cost of these animal-based methods has led to interest in the development of human-derived models. Existing platforms often utilize rodents, and so lack human receptors and other drug targets, which may produce misleading data, with difficulties in inter-species extrapolation. Current electrophysiological approaches are typically used in a low-throughput capacity and network function may be overlooked. Human-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are a promising avenue for neurotoxicity testing, increasingly utilized in drug screening and disease modeling. Furthermore, the combination of iPSC-derived models with functional techniques such as multi-electrode array (MEA) analysis can provide information on neuronal network function, with increased sensitivity to neurotoxic effects which disrupt different pathways. The use of an in vitro human iPSC-derived neural model for neurotoxicity studies, combined with high-throughput techniques such as MEA recordings, could be a suitable addition to existing pre-clinical seizure-liability testing strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number590
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
Issue numberAUG
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

© 2018 Grainger, King, Nagel, Parri, Coleman and Hill. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Funding was provided by Humane Research Trust, United Kingdom (United Kingdom Registered Charity: 267779).


  • Astrocytes
  • In vitro
  • IPSC neurons
  • Safety pharmacology
  • Seizures


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