Article ID: EJ16-0373
Steroid hormones are mainly produced in adrenal glands and gonads. Because steroid hormones play vital roles in various physiological processes, replacement of deficient steroid hormones by hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is necessary for patients with adrenal and gonadal failure. In addition to HRT, tissue regeneration using stem cells is predicted to provide novel therapy. Among various stem cell types, mesenchymal stem cells can be differentiated into steroidogenic cells following ectopic expression of nuclear receptor (NR) 5A subfamily proteins, steroidogenic factor-1 (also known as adrenal 4 binding protein) and liver receptor homolog-1, with the aid of cAMP signaling. Conversely, these approaches cannot be applied to pluripotent stem cells, such as embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells, because of poor survival following cytotoxic expression of NR5A subfamily proteins. However, if pluripotent stem cells are first differentiated through mesenchymal lineage, they can also be differentiated into steroidogenic cells via NR5A subfamily protein expression. This approach offers a potential suitable cells for future regenerative medicine and gene therapy for diseases caused by steroidogenesis deficiencies. It represents a powerful tool to investigate the molecular mechanisms involved in steroidogenesis. This article highlights our own and current research on the induction of steroidogenic cells from various stem cells. We also discuss the future direction of their clinical application.