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PLoS One. 2012;7(12):e51866. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0051866. Epub 2012 Dec 26.

Lactic acid bacteria convert human fibroblasts to multipotent cells.

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Department of Developmental Neurobiology, Graduate School of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University, Kumamoto, Japan.


The human gastrointestinal tract is colonized by a vast community of symbionts and commensals. Lactic acid bacteria (LAB) form a group of related, low-GC-content, gram-positive bacteria that are considered to offer a number of probiotic benefits to general health. While the role of LAB in gastrointestinal microecology has been the subject of extensive study, little is known about how commensal prokaryotic organisms directly influence eukaryotic cells. Here, we demonstrate the generation of multipotential cells from adult human dermal fibroblast cells by incorporating LAB. LAB-incorporated cell clusters are similar to embryoid bodies derived from embryonic stem cells and can differentiate into endodermal, mesodermal, and ectodermal cells in vivo and in vitro. LAB-incorporated cell clusters express a set of genes associated with multipotency, and microarray analysis indicates a remarkable increase of NANOG, a multipotency marker, and a notable decrease in HOX gene expression in LAB-incorporated cells. During the cell culture, the LAB-incorporated cell clusters stop cell division and start to express early senescence markers without cell death. Thus, LAB-incorporated cell clusters have potentially wide-ranging implications for cell generation, reprogramming, and cell-based therapy.

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