Plasticity of human adipose stem cells to perform adipogenic and endothelial differentiation

Differentiation. 2007 Jan;75(1):12-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1432-0436.2006.00110.x.


Recent research findings postulate that adipocytes and endothelial cells (EC) may share a common progenitor. However, the interlinking pathways between adipose tissue and endothelium, and the differentiation potential of cells to convert from one tissue into the other via progenitor cells have not been elucidated and are therefore the focus of this study. Stromal vascular fraction (SVF) cells were isolated from liposuction aspirates or excised adipose tissue and separated into CD31+ and CD31- populations by magnet-assisted cell sorting. Differentiation to fat tissue was induced in both CD31 fractions after expansion by insulin, dexamethasone, isobutylmethylxanthine, triiodothyronine, pioglitazone, and transferrin. Differentiation was assayed enzymatically and by cell counting. Maturation to endothelium was performed with vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), insulin-like growth factor-1 plus 2% fetal calf serum, and confirmed by flow cytometry and tube formation assays on Matrigel. Our results show that the SVF contains a CD31-, S100+ cell type that can differentiate into adipocytes and EC. The SVF also comprises CD31+ cells that, although they have an endothelial phenotype, can be converted into mature adipocytes. These findings demonstrate the potency of SVF cells to perform both adipogenic and endothelial differentiation. Further, they reveal the plasticity of mature cells of mesenchymal origin to undergo conversion from endothelium to adipose tissue and vice versa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / cytology*
  • Adipose Tissue / chemistry
  • Adipose Tissue / cytology
  • Adipose Tissue / physiology*
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Culture Media
  • Endothelial Cells / chemistry
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / analysis
  • Stem Cells / chemistry
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Stromal Cells / cytology
  • Stromal Cells / physiology


  • Culture Media
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1