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Stem Cells Dev. 2007 Dec;16(6):989-1001.

Anti-apoptotic effect of sphingosine-1-phosphate and platelet-derived growth factor in human embryonic stem cells.

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  • 1Monash Institute of Medical Research, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3168, Australia.


Human embryonic stem (hES) cells hold great promise for use in regenerative medicine. However, technologies first need to be established to maintain hES cells efficiently in vitro. Understanding the signaling networks involved in hES cell maintenance will prove to be essential to the development of such culture systems. Previously, we described a serum-free medium capable of supporting prolonged hES cell maintenance using sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). Here, we describe an anti-apoptotic effect of S1P and PDGF in hES cells and demonstrate a direct effect of S1P in preventing hES cell apoptosis. Western blot analysis shows that S1P stimulates the phosphorylation of the mitogen-activated protein (MAP) kinases Erk1/2 but not of Akt, whereas PDGF stimulates both Erk1/2 and Akt phosphorylation. Moreover, our study suggests that the Erk1/2 and PI3K/Akt signaling pathways act independently of each other. Furthermore, neither S1P nor PDGF modify intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca(2+)]( i )) and Smad2 phosphorylation. Using pharmacological inhibitors of Erk1/2 and PI3K, our results demonstrate a critical role of the Erk1/2 and PI3K/Akt signaling pathways in mediating the anti-apoptotic effect of S1P and PDGF on hES cells. However, inhibition of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a common downstream effector of Erk1/2 and PI3K/Akt, has no effect on hES cell apoptosis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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