Adipogenic Differentiation of Bone Marrow-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells in Pig Transgenic Model Expressing Human Mutant Huntingtin

J Huntingtons Dis. 2019;8(1):33-51. doi: 10.3233/JHD-180303.


Background: Although the highest expression of mutant huntingtin (mtHtt) was observed in the brain, its negative effects were also apparent in other tissues. Specifically, mtHtt impairs metabolic homeostasis and causes transcriptional dysregulation in adipose tissue. Adipogenic differentiation can be induced by the activation of two transcription factors: CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein alpha (CEBPα) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ). These same transcription factors were found to be compromised in some tissues of Huntington's disease (HD) mouse models and in lymphocytes of HD patients.

Objective: This study investigated the adipogenic potential of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from transgenic Huntington's disease (TgHD) minipigs expressing human mtHtt (1-548aa) containing 124 glutamines. Two differentiation conditions were used, employing PPARγ agonist rosiglitazone or indomethacin.

Methods: Bone marrow MSCs were isolated from TgHD and WT minipig siblings and compared by their cluster of differentiation using flow cytometry. Their adipogenic potential in vitro was analyzed using quantitative immunofluorescence and western blot analysis of transcription factors and adipogenic markers.

Results: Flow cytometry analysis did not reveal any significant difference between WT and TgHD MSCs. Nevertheless, following differentiation into adipocytes, the expression of CEBPα nuclear, PPARγ and adipogenic marker FABP4/AP2 were significantly lower in TgHD cells compared to WT cells. In addition, we proved both rosiglitazone and indomethacin to be efficient for adipogenic differentiation of porcine MSCs, with rosiglitazone showing a better adipogenic profile.

Conclusions: We demonstrated a negative influence of mtHtt on adipogenic differentiation of porcine MSCs in vitro associated with compromised expression of adipogenic transcription factors.

Keywords: Huntington’s disease; adipogenesis; mesenchymal stem cells; minipigs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / cytology
  • Adipogenesis*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified / genetics
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / genetics
  • Huntington Disease / pathology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Swine
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • Transcription Factors