Synergistic Effects of a Mixture of Glycosaminoglycans to Inhibit Adipogenesis and Enhance Chondrocyte Features in Multipotent Cells

Cell Physiol Biochem. 2015;37(5):1792-806. doi: 10.1159/000438542. Epub 2015 Nov 13.


Background/aims: Multipotent mesenchymal stem cells affect homeostasis of adipose and joint tissues. Factors influencing their differentiation fate are of interest for both obesity and joint problems. We studied the impact of a mixture of glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) (hyaluronic acid: dermatan sulfate 1:0.25, w/w) used in an oral supplement for joint discomfort (Oralvisc™) on the differentiation fate of multipotent cells.

Methods: Primary mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) were used as a model system. Post-confluent monolayer MEF cultures non-stimulated or hormonally stimulated to adipogenesis were chronically exposed to the GAGs mixture, its individual components or vehicle. The appearance of lipid laden cells, lipid accumulation and expression of selected genes at the mRNA and protein level was assessed.

Results: Exposure to the GAGs mixture synergistically suppressed spontaneous adipogenesis and induced the expression of cartilage extracellular matrix proteins, aggrecan core protein, decorin and cartilage oligomeric matrix protein. Hormonally-induced adipogenesis in the presence of the GAGs mixture resulted in decreased adipogenic differentiation, down-regulation of adipogenic/lipogenic factors and genes for insulin resistance-related adipokines (resistin and retinol binding protein 4), and up-regulation of oxidative metabolism-related genes. Adipogenesis in the presence of dermatan sulfate, the minor component of the mixture, was not impaired but resulted in smaller lipid droplets and the induction of a more complete brown adipocyte-related transcriptional program in the cells in the adipose state.

Conclusions: The Oralvisc™ GAGs mixture can tip the adipogenic/chondrogenic fate balance of multipotent cells away from adipogenesis while favoring chondrocyte related gene expression. The mixture and its dermatan sulfate component also have modulatory effects of interest on hormonally-induced adipogenesis and on metabolic and secretory capabilities of adipose cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / cytology
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipogenesis / drug effects*
  • Adipokines / genetics
  • Adipokines / metabolism
  • Aggrecans / genetics
  • Aggrecans / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 2 / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chondrocytes / metabolism
  • Decorin / genetics
  • Decorin / metabolism
  • Dermatan Sulfate / pharmacology
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Drug Synergism
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Glycosaminoglycans / pharmacology*
  • Hyaluronic Acid / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects


  • Adipokines
  • Aggrecans
  • Bone Morphogenetic Protein 2
  • Decorin
  • Glycosaminoglycans
  • Dermatan Sulfate
  • Hyaluronic Acid