Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry

, Volume 450, Issue 1–2, pp 65–73 | Cite as

Ascorbic acid induces cardiac differentiation of white adipose tissue-derived stem cells

  • Wenhui Liu
  • Huan Liu
  • Yinghui Wang
  • Linlin Zhang
  • Chunhui Wang
  • Haifang LiEmail author


White adipose tissue (WAT) is the bulk of fatty tissues in humans. Enhancing the potential of WAT-derived stem cells (WATDCs) to generate cardiomyocytes may help supply sufficient number of therapeutically potent cells for heart repair in vivo. Therefore, we investigated whether ascorbic acid (AA) could facilitate the cardiac differentiation of WATDCs and the underlying mechanisms. Our results indicated that AA dose-dependently stimulates the cardiac differentiation of WATDCs, which is supported by the up-regulated expression of cardiac markers and the appearance of myotube-like cell morphologies. Time-course study showed that the front phase (0–4 days) is crucial for the action of AA on cardiac differentiation, which hints that AA may take effect through enhancing the proliferation of cardiac progenitor cells. EdU assay ascertained AA indeed promotes cell growth dose-dependently in the front phase. Further investigation indicated that AA induces the phosphorylation of MEK and ERK, and the synthesis of collagen I (Col I). Interference of MEK/ERK activity or Col I synthesis blocks the cardiomyogenic activity of AA in WATDCs. These findings demonstrated that AA facilitates WATDC cardiogenesis via promoting the proliferation of cardiac progenitor cells through MEK/ERK signaling and collagen synthesis.


White adipose tissue-derived stem cells (WATDCs) Ascorbic acid (AA) Cardiac differentiation MEK/ERK signaling Collagen synthesis 



Thanks are offered to Huibin Xu (88th Hospital of PLA, China) for providing human WATDCs. This study was funded by a grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (project No. 31100994) and Funds of Shandong “Double Tops” Program.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11010_2018_3373_MOESM1_ESM.docx (63 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 62 KB)
11010_2018_3373_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (46 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 45 KB)


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wenhui Liu
    • 1
  • Huan Liu
    • 1
  • Yinghui Wang
    • 1
  • Linlin Zhang
    • 1
  • Chunhui Wang
    • 1
  • Haifang Li
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.College of Life SciencesShandong Agricultural UniversityTai’anChina

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