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J Endocrinol Invest. 2007 Oct;30(9):RC26-30.

Rosiglitazone stimulates adipogenesis and decreases osteoblastogenesis in human mesenchymal stem cells.

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  • 1Endocrine Unit, Department of Clinical Physiopathology, Center for Research, Transfer and High Education on Chronic, Inflammatory, Degenerative, and Neoplastic Disorders (DENOThe), University of Florence, 50139 Florence, Italy.


Thiazolidinediones (TZD) are widely prescribed for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. Increased loss of bone mass and a higher incidence of fractures have been associated with the use of this class of drugs in post-menopausal women. In vitro studies performed in rodent cell models indicated that rosiglitazone (RGZ), one of the TZD, inhibited osteoblastogenesis and induced adipogenesis in bone marrow progenitor cells. The objective of the present study was to determine for the first time the RGZ-dependent shift from osteoblastogenesis toward adipogenesis using a human cell model. To this purpose, bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells were characterized and induced to differentiate along osteogenic and adipogenic lineages. We found that the exposure to RGZ potentiated adipogenic differentiation and shifted the differentiation toward an osteogenic phenotype into an adipogenic phenotype, as assessed by the appearance of lipid droplets. Accordingly, RGZ markedly increased the expression of the typical marker of adipogenesis fatty-acid binding protein 4, whereas it reduced the expression of Runx2, a marker of osteoblastogenesis. This is the first demonstration that RGZ counteracts osteoblastogenesis and induces a preferential differentiation into adipocytes in human mesenchymal stem cells.

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