Inhibitory effect of celastrol on adipogenic differentiation of human adipose-derived stem cells

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2018 Dec 9;507(1-4):236-241. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2018.11.014. Epub 2018 Nov 7.


Control of adipogenesis in mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) offers enormous potential for management of obesity- and aging-related diseases. Celastrol, the traditional Chinese medicine extracted from Tripterygium wilfordi, exhibits anti-obesity effects in in vitro and in vivo murine models. This study describes how celastrol affects multilineage differentiation potential of human adipose-derived stem cells (hADSCs). We performed in vitro adipogenic differentiation of hADSCs and investigated how celastrol-induced lipid accumulation and expression of adipocyte differentiation markers varied with dose, duration, and donor age. In addition, we assessed the effect of celastrol on osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation of hADSCs. During adipogenic induction of hADSCs, the inhibitory effect of celastrol on lipid accumulation and adipogenesis depended on dose, duration, time of administration, and individual donor. Inhibition was mediated by proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARG) and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha (CEBPA). Celastrol also suppressed differentiation of hADSCs into the osteogenic and chondrogenic lineages. Celastrol plays a regulatory role in multilineage differentiation of human MSCs. Our findings provide important insights regarding management of obesity and stem cell therapy.

Keywords: CEBPA; Celastrol; Human adipose-derived stem cells (hADSCs); Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs); Multilineage differentiation; Obesity; PPARG.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / cytology
  • Adipocytes / drug effects
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipogenesis / drug effects*
  • Adipose Tissue / cytology*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / genetics
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pentacyclic Triterpenes
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / drug effects
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Triterpenes / administration & dosage
  • Triterpenes / pharmacology*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Pentacyclic Triterpenes
  • Triterpenes
  • celastrol