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Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2011 Nov;15(11):1297-306. doi: 10.1517/14728222.2011.628315. Epub 2011 Oct 10.

Generation of reactive oxygen species in adipose-derived stem cells: friend or foe?

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  • 1CHA University, Department of Biomedical Science, Seoul, Korea.



Reactive oxygen species (ROS) participate in cellular apoptosis and are involved in pathophysiological etiology of degenerative diseases. However, recent studies suggest that ROS at low levels may play a pivotal role as second messengers and activate normal cellular processes. Intracellular ROS increase the proliferation, migration, and regenerative potential of adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs). In contrast, manipulations that diminish intracellular ROS levels interfere with normal ASC function. ROS generation therefore acts like a double-edged sword.


This review discusses the following research questions: i) Do ROS stimulate or suppress ASCs? ii) How are ROS generated from ASCs? iii) Which function(s) is/are regulated by intracellular ROS generation? In addition, the antioxidant/antiapoptotic effect of ASCs is briefly introduced.


Whether ROS is harmful or beneficial is primarily a question of dosage. Low or moderate ROS generation increases the proliferation, migration and regenerative potential of ASCs. Therefore, it is beneficial to expose ASCs to moderate oxidative stress during manipulation. The addition of a ROS donor in culture can reduce the cost for the expansion of ASCs and a ROS preconditioning can enhance the regenerative potential of ASCs.

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