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J Cell Biochem. 2011 Jul;112(7):1898-908. doi: 10.1002/jcb.23110.

Simulated microgravity promoted differentiation of bipotential murine oval liver stem cells by modulating BMP4/Notch1 signaling.

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  • 1Vascular Biology Lab, Life Sciences Division, AU-KBC Research Centre, Anna University, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.


Faster growth and differentiation of liver stem cells to hepatocyte is one of the key factors during liver regeneration. In recent years, simulated microgravity, a physical force has shown to differentially regulate the differentiation and proliferation of stem cells. In the present work, we studied the effect of simulated microgravity on differentiation and proliferation of liver stem cells. The cells were subjected to microgravity, which was simulated using indigenously fabricated 3D clinostat. Proliferation, apoptosis, immunofluorescence assays and Western blot analysis were carried out to study the effects of simulated microgravity on liver stem cells. Microgravity treatment for 2 h enhanced proliferation of stem cells by twofold without inducing apoptosis and compromising cell viability. Analysis of hepatocyte nuclear factor 4-α (HNF4-α) expression after 2 h of microgravity treatment revealed that microgravity alone can induce the differentiation of stem cells within 2-3 days. Probing bone morphogenic protein 4 (BMP4) and Notch1 in microgravity treated stem cells elaborated downregulation of Notch1 and upregulation of BMP4 after 2 days of incubation. Further, blocking BMP4 using dorsomorphin and chordin conditioned media from chordin plasmid transfected cells attenuated microgravity mediated differentiation of liver stem cells. In conclusion, microgravity interplays with BMP4/Notch1 signaling in stem cells thus inducing differentiation of stem cells to hepatocytes. Present findings can be implicated in clinical studies where microgravity activated stem cells can regenerate the liver efficiently after liver injury.

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