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Plast Reconstr Surg. 2005 Nov;116(6):1686-96.

The osteogenic potential of adipose-derived mesenchymal cells is maintained with aging.

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Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Department of Surgery, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, USA.



Adipose-derived mesenchymal cells are multipotent progenitor cells derived from the vascular-stromal compartment of adipose tissue. Although we have recently shown that these cells, from both juvenile and adult animals, are capable of forming bone in vivo, a detailed examination of the differences in the biology of these two populations (and in particular their ability to form bone) has not been performed.


Adipose-derived mesenchymal cells were harvested from juvenile (6-day-old) and adult (60-day-old) mice. Differences in cellular attachment, proliferation, and proliferating cell nuclear antigen production were assessed. The ability of cells to undergo adipogenic differentiation was determined by Oil Red O staining. Early osteogenic differentiation was determined with alkaline phosphatase staining, and terminal differentiation with von Kossa staining as well as determination of extracellular matrix calcium content. All experiments were performed in triplicate.


Greater attachment, proliferation, and proliferating cell nuclear antigen production were seen in juvenile as compared with adult adipose-derived mesenchymal cells. The juvenile cells underwent significantly greater adipogenic differentiation than did adult cells (p < 0.001). Interestingly, the adult cells were capable of robust early and terminal osteogenic differentiation, with levels of all three osteo-genic assays being similar to those seen in juvenile cells. Differences were not statistically significant.


Although biologic differences exist between adipose-derived mesenchymal cells from juveniles and adults, the osteogenic capacity of these cells appears to be minimally affected by donor age. This suggests that these cells may be a particularly useful cellular resource in the design of cell-based therapies for skeletal regeneration in an aging population.

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