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Stem Cells Dev. 2014 Jan 1;23(1):24-33. doi: 10.1089/scd.2013.0137. Epub 2013 Oct 4.

Differentiation potential and profile of nuclear receptor expression during expanded culture of human adipose tissue-derived stem cells reveals PPARγ as an important regulator of Oct4 expression.

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  • 11 College of Pharmacy and Gachon Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, Gachon University , Incheon, South Korea .


Potential therapeutic use of human adipose tissue-derived stem cells (hADSCs) requires the production of large cell numbers by in vitro expansion. However, long-term in vitro culture is associated with reduced stem cell characteristics and differentiation capability. We investigated the proliferation rate and expression of p16(INK4a) mRNA, surface stem cell markers, and stem cell transcription factors. The proliferation rate decreased significantly as passages increased, and the expression of p16(INK4a) mRNA significantly increased. FACS analysis of CD73, CD90, and CD105 expression showed no significant difference among examined passages; however, the mRNA expression levels of pluripotent markers, Oct4 and Nanog, were significantly decreased at higher passages. At passages 12 and 20, there was decreased differentiation capability into insulin-producing cells, evidenced by significantly decreased expression of insulin and related β cell markers. Adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation was also decreased at higher passages. We then analyzed the transcriptional expression profiles of 48 nuclear receptors at four different passages. We found that the expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) and thyroid hormone receptor TRβ was significantly decreased at higher passages. Treatment with PPARγ activators or overexpression of PPARγ in hADSCs at passage 20 could recover Oct4 expression levels and increase Oct4 promoter activity. PPARγ inactivation by GW9662 inhibited the troglitazone-induced Oct4 mRNA expression. Furthermore, PPARγ overexpression in hADSC at passage 20 improved the differentiation potential to insulin-producing cells. In conclusion, we demonstrated that hADSCs undergo characteristic changes and reduction of differentiation capability during expanded culture in vitro, and revealed the role of PPARγ as one potential factor in the regulation of Oct4 expression during in vitro aging of hADSCs.

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