The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 62: 431 - 439 (2018)

Vol 62, Issue 6-7-8

Special Issue: Regeneration

Plasticity of human adipose-derived stem cells – relevance to tissue repair

Review | Published: 21 June 2018

Leonardo Guasti1, Sophie E. New2, Irene Hadjidemetriou1,2, Miriam Palmiero2 and Patrizia Ferretti2

1Centre for Endocrinology, William Harvey Research Institute, Barts and the London, Queen Mary University of London and 2Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Section, Developmental Biology and Cancer Programme, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, University College London, London, UK.


In contrast to cold blooded vertebrates, the ability to regenerate morphologically and functionally complex structures is limited in adult mammals. Recruitment of progenitor cells is a key step in the regenerative process. The possibility of repairing missing or diseased tissues in humans has been potentiated by the increasing understanding of somatic stem cells, their plasticity and the possibility of modulating it, that could be harnessed either to stimulate endogenous repair or to engineer the required tissue. Here, we focus on human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), important players in tissue homeostasis in healthy organisms, with a particular emphasis on those derived from the adipose tissue (ADSCs). While a mark of MSC identity is the ability to differentiate into osteoblasts, chondrocytes and adipocytes, there is evidence that their potential goes beyond these three mesenchymal lineages. We discuss some differentiation and modulatory properties of MSCs and provide an overview of our recent work on ADSCs from paediatric patients (pADSCs) that has shown their ability to give raise to non-mesenchymal cells, consistent with a significant plasticity. Finally, we present novel data indicating that both mesenchymal lineages (adipogenic, chondrogenic and osteogenic) and neural and epithelial lineages can originate from clonal lines that like the parental line express markers of pluripotency as well as the stromal cell marker, GREM1. Together these data support the existence of pADSC multipotent stem cells.


adipose tissue-derived stem cell (ADSC), human, mesenchymal stem cell (MSC), plasticity, regeneration

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