, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 319-329

Epigenetic programming of mesenchymal stem cells from human adipose tissue

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Abstract

Stromal stem cells identified in various adult mesenchymal tissues (commonly called mesenchymal stem cells [MSCs]) have in past years received more attention as a result of their potential interest as replacement cells in regenerative medicine. An abundant and easily accessible source of adult human MSCs are stem cells harvested from liposuction material. Similarly to bone marrow-derived MSCs, human adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ASCs) can give rise to a variety of cell types in vitro and in vivo; however, they have a propensity to differentiate into primarily mesodermal lineages. Even so, their capacity to differentiate into nonadipogenic mesodermal pathways seems to be restricted. Emerging DNA methylation profiles at adipogenic and nonadipogenic gene promoters in freshly isolated, cultured, or differentiated ASCs aim to provide an epigenetic explanation for this restrictive differentiation potential. A review of these studies indicates that human ASCs are epigenetically marked by mosaic hypomethylation of adipogenic promoters, whereas nonadipogenic lineage-specific promoters are hypermethylated. Surprisingly, in vitro differentiation toward various pathways maintains the overall methylation profiles of undifferentiated cells, raising the hypothesis that ASCs are at least epigenetically preprogrammed for adipogenesis. Novel attempts at reprogramming the epigenome of MSCs have been initiated to enhance the differentiation capacity of these cells.