Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 366, Issue 1, pp 63–74 | Cite as

Differentiation of human adipose stromal cells in vitro into insulin-sensitive adipocytes

  • Outi HuttalaEmail author
  • R. Mysore
  • J. R. Sarkanen
  • T. Heinonen
  • V. M. Olkkonen
  • T. Ylikomi
Regular Article


Adipose tissue-related diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes are worldwide epidemics. In order to develop adipose tissue cultures in vitro that mimic more faithfully the in vivo physiology, new well-characterized and publicly accepted differentiation methods of human adipose stem cells are needed. The aims of this study are (1) to improve the existing natural adipose tissue extract (ATE)-based induction method and (2) to study the effects of a differentiation method on insulin responsiveness of the resulting adipocytes. Different induction media were applied on human adipose stromal cell (hASC) monocultures to study the differentiation capacity of the induction media and the functionality of the differentiated adipocytes. Cells were differentiated for 14 days to assess triglyceride accumulation per cell and adipocyte-specific gene expression (PPARγ, adiponectin, AP2, leptin, Glut4, Prdm16, CIDEA, PGC1-α, RIP140, UCP and ADCY5). Insulin response was studied by measuring glucose uptake and inhibition of lipolysis after incubation with 100 or 500 nM insulin. The selected differentiation method included a 3-day induction with ATE, 6 days in serum-free medium supplemented with 1.15 μM insulin and 9.06 μM Troglitazone, followed by 4 days in a defined serum- and insulin-free stimulation medium. This protocol induced prominent general adipocyte gene expression, including markers for both brown and white adipocytes and triglyceride accumulation. Moreover, the cells were sensitive to insulin as observed from increased glucose uptake and inhibition of lipolysis. This differentiation protocol provides a promising approach for the induction of hASC adipogenesis to obtain functional and mature human adipocytes.


Adipocyte Adipogenesis In vitro differentiation Maturity Adipose stromal cells 



We thank the staff at the Tampere University Hospital as well as the donors for the adipose tissue samples. We thank Ms Sari Leinonen, Ms Paula Helpiölä, Ms Mirja Hyppönen and Ms Hilkka Mäkinen for technical assistance. Funding for the project was kindly provided by the Diabetes Research Foundation, Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, Paavo Nurmi foundation, Ministry of Education and Culture and Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Patent issued in USA (WO2010026299A1), pending elsewhere.

Supplementary material

441_2016_2409_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (261 kb)
Table S1 Primer sequences used in the quantitative PCR (PDF 261 kb)
441_2016_2409_MOESM2_ESM.tif (903 kb)
Fig. S1 Expression of adipocyte marker mRNAs in the differentiated adipocytes. Expression of adiponectin, Glut4, AP2, leptin and PPARγ in adipocytes differentiated by 11 protocols in the study. The bars represent mean ± SD (n ≥ 3). Statistical significances are not shown in the figure. (TIF 902 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Outi Huttala
    • 1
    Email author
  • R. Mysore
    • 2
  • J. R. Sarkanen
    • 3
    • 4
  • T. Heinonen
    • 1
  • V. M. Olkkonen
    • 2
    • 5
  • T. Ylikomi
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.FICAMUniversity of TampereTampereFinland
  2. 2.Minerva Foundation Institute for Medical ResearchHelsinkiFinland
  3. 3.Cell BiologyUniversity of TampereTampereFinland
  4. 4.Science CentrePirkanmaa Hospital DistrictTampereFinland
  5. 5.Department of Anatomy, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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