Stem cells are undifferentiated cells with the capacity for self-renewal and differentiation. Here we have determined the susceptibility to oxidative stress of isolated mesenchymal stem cells from human skin (S-MSCs) in comparison with keratinocytes, which are differentiated cells of the same lineage. To induce pro-oxidant conditions, S-MSCs and keratinocytes were exposed to 0.5mM H(2)O(2) for 2 h, with oxidative effects analyzed after 4, 12, 24, and 48 h of recovery, in terms of cell growth, vitality, apoptosis, DNA damage, variations in individual antioxidant defense and total oxyradical scavenging capacity toward peroxyl and hydroxyl radicals. The data indicate different abilities across these two cell types to counteract this oxidative stress, which reflects stress that would normally be experienced by these cells under basal conditions. Human keratinocytes seem to have much greater antioxidant defense to counteract the oxidative injury to which they are continuously exposed in the skin. The S-MSCs are surrounded by a complex microenvironment that protects them from external insults, and so they do not have a particularly efficient defense system, and they were generally less responsive to enhanced pro-oxidant challenge. S-MSCs seem particularly prone to apoptotic events, which might thus represent their primary defense mechanism against stress.
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