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Stem Cell Res. 2015 Sep;15(2):403-18. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2015.08.004. Epub 2015 Aug 15.

Characterization of DLK1(PREF1)+/CD34+ cells in vascular stroma of human white adipose tissue.

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Division for Clinical and Functional Anatomy, Department for Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria.
Cell Metabolism and Differentiation Research Group, Institute for Biomedical Aging Research, University of Innsbruck, Austria.
Department of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria.
Department of Internal Medicine V, Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria.
Cell Metabolism and Differentiation Research Group, Institute for Biomedical Aging Research, University of Innsbruck, Austria. Electronic address:


Sorting of native (unpermeabilized) SVF-cells from human subcutaneous (s)WAT for cell surface staining (cs) of DLK1 and CD34 identified three main populations: ~10% stained cs-DLK1+/cs-CD34-, ~20% cs-DLK1+/cs-CD34+dim and ~45% cs-DLK1-/cs-CD34+. FACS analysis after permeabilization showed that all these cells stained positive for intracellular DLK1, while CD34 was undetectable in cs-DLK1+/cs-CD34- cells. Permeabilized cs-DLK1-/cs-CD34+ cells were positive for the pericyte marker α-SMA and the mesenchymal markers CD90 and CD105, albeit CD105 staining was dim (cs-DLK1-/cs-CD34+/CD90+/CD105+dim/α-SMA+/CD45-/CD31-). Only these cells showed proliferative and adipogenic capacity. Cs-DLK1+/cs-CD34- and cs-DLK1+/cs-CD34+dim cells were also α-SMA+ but expressed CD31, had a mixed hematopoietic and mesenchymal phenotype, and could neither proliferate nor differentiate into adipocytes. Histological analysis of sWAT detected DLK1+/CD34+ and DLK1+/CD90+ cells mainly in the outer ring of vessel-associated stroma and at capillaries. DLK1+/α-SMA+ cells were localized in the CD34- perivascular ring and in adventitial vascular stroma. All these DLK1+ cells possess a spindle-shaped morphology with extremely long processes. DLK1+/CD34+ cells were also detected in vessel endothelium. Additionally, we show that sWAT contains significantly more DLK1+ cells than visceral (v)WAT. We conclude that sWAT has more DKL1+ cells than vWAT and contains different DLK1/CD34 populations, and only cs-DLK1-/cs-CD34+/CD90+/CD105+dim/α-SMA+/CD45-/CD31- cells in the adventitial vascular stroma exhibit proliferative and adipogenic capacity.


Adipogenesis; Adipose-derived stromal/progenitor cells; CD34; CD90; Clonal expansion; DLK1; Vascular niche; α-SMA

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