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Int J Stem Cells. 2019 Jul 31;12(2):279-290. doi: 10.15283/ijsc18042.

FGF-17 from Hypoxic Human Wharton's Jelly-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells Is Responsible for Maintenance of Cell Proliferation at Late Passages.

Author information

Division of Vascular Surgery, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Stem Cell & Regenerative Medicine Institute, Research Institute for Future Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Seoul, Korea.


Background and Objectives:

Although it is well known that hypoxic culture conditions enhance proliferation of human mesenchymal stem cells, the exact mechanism is not fully understood. In this study, we investigated the effect of fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-17 from hypoxic human Wharton's Jelly-derived mesenchymal stem cells (hWJ-MSCs) on cell proliferation at late passages.

Methods and Results:

hWJ-MSCs were cultured in α-MEM medium supplemented with 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS) in normoxic (21% O2) and hypoxic (1% O2) conditions. Protein antibody array was performed to analyze secretory proteins in conditioned medium from normoxic and hypoxic hWJ-MSCs at passage 10. Cell proliferation of hypoxic hWJ-MSCs was increased compared with normoxic hWJ-MSCs from passage 7 to 10, and expression of secretory FGF-17 was highly increased in conditioned medium from hypoxic hWJ-MSCs at passage 10. Knockdown of FGF-17 in hypoxic and normoxic hWJ-MSCs decreased cell proliferation, whereas treatment of hypoxic and normoxic hWJ-MSCs with recombinant protein FGF-17 increased their proliferation. Signal transduction of FGF-17 in hypoxic and normoxic hWJ-MSCs involved the ERK1/2 pathway. Cell phenotypes were not changed under either condition. Differentiation-related genes adiponectin, Runx2, and chondroadherin were downregulated in normoxic hWJ-MSCs treated with rFGF-17, and upregulated by siFGF-17. Expression of alkaline phosphatase (ALP), Runx2, and chondroadherin was upregulated in hypoxic hWJ-MSCs, and this effect was rescued by transfection with siFGF-17. Only chondroadherin was upregulated in hypoxic hWJ-MSCs with rFGF-17.


In hypoxic culture conditions, FGF-17 from hypoxic hWJ-MSCs contributes to the maintenance of high proliferation at late passages through the ERK1/2 pathway.


FGF-17; Hypoxic culture; Mesenchymal stem cells; Proliferation

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