Adipogenic differentiation of human adult stem cells from bone marrow stroma (MSCs)

J Bone Miner Res. 2004 Feb;19(2):256-64. doi: 10.1359/JBMR.0301220. Epub 2003 Dec 16.


We assayed gene expressions during adipogenesis of human MSCs. Microarray assays demonstrated time-dependent increases in expression of 67 genes, including 2 genes for transcription factors that were not previously shown to be expressed during adipogenesis. INTRODUCTION Increased numbers of bone marrow adipocytes have been observed in patients with osteoporosis and aplastic anemia, but the pathological mechanisms remain unknown. Recently, microarray assays for mRNAs were used to follow adipogenic differentiation of the preadipocytic cell line, 3T3-L1, but adipogenic differentiation has not been examined in primary cells from bone marrow. Here we defined the sequence of gene expression during the adipogenesis ex vivo of human cells from bone marrow referred to as either mesenchymal stem cells or marrow stromal cells (MSCs).

Materials and methods: MSCs were plated at extremely low densities to generate single-cell derived colonies, and adipogenic differentiation of the colonies assayed by accumulation of fat vacuoles, time-lapse photomicroscopy, microarrays, and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assays. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS About 30% of the colonies differentiated to adipocytes in 14 days and about 60% in 21 days. Cell proliferation was inhibited by approximately 50% in adipogenic medium. The differentiation occurred primarily at the center of the colonies, and a few adipocytes that formed near the periphery migrated toward the centers. RT-PCR assays demonstrated that the differentiation was accompanied by increases in a series of genes previously shown to increase with adipogenic differentiation: peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma, CCAAT enhancer-binding protein alpha, acylCoA synthetase, lipoprotein lipase, and fatty acid binding protein 4. We also followed differentiation with microarray assays. Sixty-seven genes increased more than 10-fold at day 1 and 20-fold at day 7, 14, or 21. Many of the genes identified were previously shown to be expressed during adipocytic differentiation. However, others, such as zinc finger E-box binding protein and zinc finger protein 145, were not. This study should serve as a basis for future study to clarify the mechanisms of adipocyte differentiation of MSCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / cytology*
  • Adult
  • Base Sequence
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • DNA Primers
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Stromal Cells / cytology*


  • DNA Primers