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Metabolism. 2001 Apr;50(4):407-13.

Thiazolidinediones and glucocorticoids synergistically induce differentiation of human adipose tissue stromal cells: biochemical, cellular, and molecular analysis.

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Zen-Bio, Inc, Research Triangle Park, NC, USA.


While adipocyte differentiation has been studied extensively in murine cultures, the lack of a readily available preadipocyte model has hindered equivalent studies in man. We describe methods for the isolation and culture of primary human stromal cells from surgical adipose tissue specimens. In vitro, the stromal cells rapidly differentiate in response to a combination of adipogenic agents. Among these, glucocorticoids and thiazolidinediones act together to induce the formation of lipid vacuoles within the cells. These morphologic changes accompany the increased expression of 2 characteristic adipocyte proteins, the cytoplasmic enzyme glycerol phosphate dehydrogenase (GPDH) and the secreted cytokine leptin. Likewise, stromal cell differentiation results in elevated mRNA levels for the fatty acid binding protein aP2 and the adipogenic regulatory transcription factors CCAAT/enhancer binding protein alpha (C/EBPalpha) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) in addition to leptin. The in vitro differentiated stromal cells exhibit a lipolytic response to beta-adrenergic agonists, comparable to that reported with primary human adipocytes. These studies demonstrate the validity of human adipose tissue-derived stromal cells as a reliable in vitro model for investigations of adipocyte metabolism in humans.

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