Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 74, Issue 19, pp 3553–3575 | Cite as

Small molecules for reprogramming and transdifferentiation

  • Hua Qin
  • Andong Zhao
  • Xiaobing FuEmail author


Pluripotency reprogramming and transdifferentiation induced by transcription factors can generate induced pluripotent stem cells, adult stem cells or specialized cells. However, the induction efficiency and the reintroduction of exogenous genes limit their translation into clinical applications. Small molecules that target signaling pathways, epigenetic modifications, or metabolic processes can regulate cell development, cell fate, and function. In the recent decade, small molecules have been widely used in reprogramming and transdifferentiation fields, which can promote the induction efficiency, replace exogenous genes, or even induce cell fate conversion alone. Small molecules are expected as novel approaches to generate new cells from somatic cells in vitro and in vivo. Here, we will discuss the recent progress, new insights, and future challenges about the use of small molecules in cell fate conversion.


Adult cells Chemical compound Direct conversion Tissue repair Regeneration 



This research was supported in part by the National Nature Science Foundation of China (81121004, 81230041) and the National Basic Science and Development Program (973 Program, 2012CB518105).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

There is no conflict of interest declared by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Tianjin Medical UniversityTianjinChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Wound Repair and Regeneration of PLAThe First Hospital Affiliated to the PLA General HospitalBeijingChina

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