Current methods of adipogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells

Stem Cells Dev. 2011 Oct;20(10):1793-804. doi: 10.1089/scd.2011.0040. Epub 2011 Jun 20.


There has been a recent increase in our understanding in the isolation, culture, and differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Concomitantly, the availability of MSCs has increased, with cells now commercially available, including human MSCs from adipose tissue and bone marrow. Despite an increased understanding of MSC biology and an increase in their availability, standardization of techniques for adipogenic differentiation of MSCs is lacking. The following review will explore the variability in adipogenic differentiation in vitro, specifically in 3T3-L1 and primary MSCs derived from both adipose tissue and bone marrow. A review of alternative methods of adipogenic induction is also presented, including the use of specific peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma agonists as well as bone morphogenetic proteins. Finally, we define a standard, commonly used adipogenic differentiation medium in the hopes that this will be adopted for the future standardization of laboratory techniques--however, we also highlight the essentially arbitrary nature of this decision. With the current, rapid pace of electronic publications, it becomes imperative for standardization of such basic techniques so that interlaboratory results may be easily compared and interpreted.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipogenesis* / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / drug effects
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism
  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins / pharmacology
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Cell Culture Techniques / trends*
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • PPAR gamma / agonists
  • PPAR gamma / metabolism


  • Bone Morphogenetic Proteins
  • PPAR gamma