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Hypoxia-mimetic agents inhibit proliferation and alter the morphology of human umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells

Hui-Lan Zeng1, Qi Zhong12, Yong-Liang Qin1, Qian-Qian Bu1, Xin-Ai Han13, Hai-Tao Jia4 and Hong-Wei Liu5*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Hematology, the First Affiliated Hospital of Jinan University, Guangzhou 510630, China

2 Department of Hematology, Guangdong No.2 Provincial People's Hospital, Guangzhou 510317, China

3 Department of Internal Medicine, the Third Affiliated Hospital of Nanfang Medicine University, Guangzhou 510630, China

4 Institute of Life and Health Engineering, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510630, China

5 Department of Plastic Surgery and Cosmetology, the First Affiliated Hospital, Jinan University, Guangzhou, 510630, China

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BMC Cell Biology 2011, 12:32  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-12-32

Published: 9 August 2011



The therapeutic efficacy of human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) for the treatment of hypoxic-ischemic diseases is closely related to level of hypoxia in the damaged tissues. To elucidate the potential therapeutic applications and limitations of hMSCs derived from human umbilical cords, the effects of hypoxia on the morphology and proliferation of hMSCs were analyzed.


After treatment with DFO and CoCl2, hMSCs were elongated, and adjacent cells were no longer in close contact. In addition, vacuole-like structures were observed within the cytoplasm; the rough endoplasmic reticulum expanded, and expanded ridges were observed in mitochondria. In addition, DFO and CoCl2 treatments for 48 h significantly inhibited hMSCs proliferation in a concentration-dependent manner (P < 0.05). This treatment also increased the number of cells in G0/G1 phase and decreased those in G2/S/M phase.


The hypoxia-mimetic agents, DFO and CoCl2, alter umbilical cord-derived hMSCs morphology and inhibit their proliferation through influencing the cell cycle.