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Body mass index affects proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of human subcutaneous adipose tissue-derived stem cells

Trivia P Frazier1, Jeffrey M Gimble2, Jessica W Devay3, Hugh A Tucker4, Ernest S Chiu5 and Brian G Rowan1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Structural and Cellular Biology, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA

2 Stem Cell Biology Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University System, Baton Rouge, LA, USA

3 Stem Cell Core Facility, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA

4 Flow Cytometry Core Facility, Center for Gene Therapy, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, USA

5 Division of Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, Louisiana State University Health Science Center, New Orleans, LA, USA

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BMC Cell Biology 2013, 14:34  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-14-34

Published: 7 August 2013



Obesity is associated with a higher risk of developing cancer and co-morbidities that are part of the metabolic syndrome. Adipose tissue is recognized as an endocrine organ, as it affects a number of physiological functions, and contains adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ASCs). ASCs can differentiate into cells of multiple lineages, and as such are applicable to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Yet the question of whether ASC functionality is affected by the donor’s body mass index (BMI) still exists.


ASCs were isolated from patients having different BMIs (BMI-ASCs), within the ranges of 18.5-32.8. It was hypothesized that overweight BMI-ASCs would be more compromised in early adipogenic and osteogenic potential, and ability to form colonies in vitro. BMI was inversely correlated with ASC proliferation and colony forming potential as assessed by CyQUANT proliferation assay (fluorescence- based measurement of cellular DNA content), and colony forming assays. BMI was positively correlated with early time point (day 7) but not later time point (day 15) intracytoplasmic lipid accumulation as assessed by Oil-Red-O staining. Alizarin red staining and RT-PCR for alkaline phosphatase demonstrated that elevated BMI resulted in compromised ASC mineralization of extracellular matrix and decreased alkaline phosphatase mRNA expression.


These data demonstrate that elevated BMI resulted in reduced ASC proliferation, and potentially compromised osteogenic capacity in vitro; thus BMI is an important criterion to consider in selecting ASC donors for clinical applications.

Adipose stromal/stem cells (ASCs); Body mass index (BMI); Osteogenesis; Proliferation; Colony formation; Cell size