Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 3 (3), 414-22

Epigenetic Rejuvenation of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Derived From Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells


Epigenetic Rejuvenation of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells Derived From Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells

Joana Frobel et al. Stem Cell Reports.


Standardization of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) remains a major obstacle in regenerative medicine. Starting material and culture expansion affect cell preparations and render comparison between studies difficult. In contrast, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) assimilate toward a ground state and may therefore give rise to more standardized cell preparations. We reprogrammed MSCs into iPSCs, which were subsequently redifferentiated toward MSCs. These iPS-MSCs revealed similar morphology, immunophenotype, in vitro differentiation potential, and gene expression profiles as primary MSCs. However, iPS-MSCs were impaired in suppressing T cell proliferation. DNA methylation (DNAm) profiles of iPSCs maintained donor-specific characteristics, whereas tissue-specific, senescence-associated, and age-related DNAm patterns were erased during reprogramming. iPS-MSCs reacquired senescence-associated DNAm during culture expansion, but they remained rejuvenated with regard to age-related DNAm. Overall, iPS-MSCs are similar to MSCs, but they reveal incomplete reacquisition of immunomodulatory function and MSC-specific DNAm patterns-particularly of DNAm patterns associated with tissue type and aging.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Generation of iPS-MSCs (A) Phase contrast images of MSCs, iPSCs, and iPS-MSCs in the course of differentiation either with or without EB formation. Thirty-five days after induction of differentiation, iPS-MSCs revealed similar fibroblastoid morphology as MSCs. (B) Population doublings (PDs) of MSCs and iPS-MSCs within 6 days of culture on gelatin-coated plates (N = 3; n = 3; mean ± SD; ∗∗∗p < 0.001). (C) iPS-MSCs displayed similar immunophenotypic characteristics as primary MSCs (autofluorescence is indicated in gray). (D) MSCs and iPS-MSCs were differentiated toward adipogenic, osteogenic, or chondrogenic lineages for three weeks and subsequently stained with BODIPY/DAPI, alizarin red, or Alcian blue/PAS, respectively. Controls were simultaneously cultured in normal growth medium, and representative images are presented. (E) In vitro differentiation potential was further assessed by quantitative real-time PCR of adipogenic (ADIPOQ, FABP4), osteogenic (RUNX2, SP7, COL1A1, SPARC), and chondrogenic (SOX9, ACAN, COL2A1) marker genes in MSCs (green) and iPS-MSCs (blue; N = 3; n = 2; mean ± SD; p < 0.05; ∗∗p < 0.01 versus nondifferentiated control). See also Figure S1.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Gene Expression Profiles of iPS-MSCs Are Similar to Primary MSCs (A) Hierarchical clustering revealed close relationship of iPS-MSCs and primary MSCs. MSC donor number (“M”) and clone number (“C”) are indicated for iPSCs and iPS-MSCs. Furthermore, passage numbers (“P”) are provided for MSCs and time of redifferentiation (“d”) for iPS-MSCs. (B) Heatmap of pairwise correlation coefficients (R2) demonstrates relationship of iPS-MSCs and MSCs. (C) Pluripotency was assessed by PluriTest analysis (Müller et al., 2011). After differentiation for more than 7 days toward iPS-MSCs, cells were clearly associated with nonpluripotent samples (blue area) and not with pluripotent samples (red area; labeling of samples as in A). (D) MSC marker genes were expressed at similar level in primary MSCs and iPS-MSCs. (E) Number of differentially expressed genes between MSCs, iPSCs, and iPS-MSCs (>2-fold regulation; adjusted p value <0.01; for each cell type, the number of upregulated genes is indicated by color code). (F) Gene ontology analysis of genes that are differentially expressed between MSCs and iPS-MSCs. The most significant categories are depicted. (G) Activity of iPS-MSCs and MSCs on proliferation of stimulated CD4+ T cells was assessed by flow cytometry and carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester (CFSE) staining. Different T cell:MSC ratios were used and representative histograms are depicted (unstimulated control is indicated in light gray). The percentage of proliferating cells is indicated in each histogram. (H) Quantitative analysis of T cell proliferation assay was performed with percentage of proliferated cells as shown in (G) (MSCs: N = 3; iPS-MSCs: N = 2; mean ± SD; p < 0.05; ∗∗p < 0.01). See also Figure S2.
Figure 3
Figure 3
DNAm Profiles of iPS-MSCs (A) Hierarchical clustering of global DNAm profiles. (B) Number of CpGs with differential DNAm between MSCs, iPSCs, and iPS-MSCs (>20% change in DNAm level; adjusted p value <0.01; for each cell type hypermethylated CpGs are indicated by color code). (C) DNAm levels (β values) of CpGs represented in the genes POU5F1 (OCT3/4), NANOG, NT5E (CD73), and ENG (CD105) (TSS1500: 1,500 bp upstream of transcription start site; TSS200: 200 bp upstream of TSS; UTR). (D) Enrichment of differential DNAm of MSCs versus iPS-MSCs in gene regions or in relation to CpG islands (p values were estimated by hypergeometric distribution). See also Figure S3.
Figure 4
Figure 4
Donor-, Tissue-, and Age-Specific DNAm Changes (A) Hierarchical cluster analysis of 1,091 CpGs with highest donor-specific variation in primary MSC preparations (SD > 0.2) (Shao et al., 2013) revealed that iPSCs and iPS-MSCs clustered with their parental cell preparations. This indicates that interindividual DNAm patterns are maintained in iPS-MSCs (cultivated in mTeSR1). (B) Hierarchical cluster analysis of 1,711 CpGs with differential DNAm in MSCs from adipose tissue (AT) and bone marrow (BM; >15% difference in mean methylation level) (Schellenberg et al., 2011) demonstrated that the BM-associated DNAm pattern is erased in iPSCs and not reestablished in iPS-MSCs. (C) The state of cellular senescence was estimated by pyrosequencing analysis of six senescence-associated CpGs (Koch et al., 2012). Predictions of this Epigenetic-Senescence-Signature for cumulative population doublings (cPD) were reversed upon reprogramming into iPSCs and increased again during differentiation toward iPS-MSCs. (D) To estimate the state of cellular senescence in iPS-MSCs we analyzed the frequency of fibroblastoid colony forming units (CFU-f). CFU-f frequency declines continuously in primary BM-MSCs and AT-MSCs (Schellenberg et al., 2012) and the number of CFU-f in iPS-MSCs after 35 days is in line with culture expansion for five passages. (E) Donor age of cell preparations was estimated using a multivariate model based on DNAm of 99 age-related CpGs of blood (Weidner et al., 2014). (F) Alternatively, donor age was predicted using a recently published predictor applicable for different tissues (Horvath, 2013). Overall, epigenetic rejuvenation upon reprogramming into iPSCs is also maintained in iPS-MSCs. See also Figure S4.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 61 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Barberi T., Willis L.M., Socci N.D., Studer L. Derivation of multipotent mesenchymal precursors from human embryonic stem cells. PLoS Med. 2005;2:e161. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Boyd N.L., Robbins K.R., Dhara S.K., West F.D., Stice S.L. Human embryonic stem cell-derived mesoderm-like epithelium transitions to mesenchymal progenitor cells. Tissue Eng. Part A. 2009;15:1897–1907. - PMC - PubMed
    1. Chen Y.S., Pelekanos R.A., Ellis R.L., Horne R., Wolvetang E.J., Fisk N.M. Small molecule mesengenic induction of human induced pluripotent stem cells to generate mesenchymal stem/stromal cells. Stem Cells Transl. Med. 2012;1:83–95. - PMC - PubMed
    1. de Peppo G.M., Svensson S., Lennerås M., Synnergren J., Stenberg J., Strehl R., Hyllner J., Thomsen P., Karlsson C. Human embryonic mesodermal progenitors highly resemble human mesenchymal stem cells and display high potential for tissue engineering applications. Tissue Eng. Part A. 2010;16:2161–2182. - PubMed
    1. Diederichs S., Tuan R.S. Functional Comparison of Human-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Mesenchymal Cells and Bone Marrow-Derived Mesenchymal Stromal Cells from the Same Donor. Stem Cells Dev. 2014;23:1594–1610. - PMC - PubMed

Publication types

LinkOut - more resources