Molecular and functional characterization of human bone marrow adipocytes

Antonella Poloni, Giulia Maurizi, Federica Serrani, Stefania Mancini, Maria Cristina Zingaretti, Andrea Frontini, Saverio Cinti, Attilio Olivieri, Pietro Leoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adipocytes are a cell population largely located in the human bone marrow cavity. In this specific microenvironment where adipocytes can interact with a variety of different cells, the role of fat is mainly unknown. To our knowledge, this report is the first to characterize mature adipocytes isolated from human bone marrow (BM-A) molecularly and functionally to better understand their roles into the hematopoietic microenvironment. Healthy BM-A were isolated after collagenase digestion and filtration. We studied the morphology of BM-A, their gene expression and immunophenotypic profile and their functional ability in the hematopoietic microenvironment, comparing them with adipocytes derived from adipose tissue (AT-A). BM-A showed a unilocular lipid morphology similar to AT-A and did not lose their morphology in culture; they showed a comparable pattern of stem cell-surface antigens to AT-A. In line with these observations, molecular data showed that BM-A expressed some embryonic stem cells genes, such as Oct4, KLf4, c-myc, Gata4, Tbx1, and Sox17, whereas they did not express the stem cell markers Sox2 and Nanog. Moreover, BM-A had long telomeres that were similar to bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells. Notably, BM-A supported the survival and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells in long-term cultures. These results showed that BM-A are stromal cells with a gene expression pattern that distinguished them from AT-A. BM-A showed stem cell properties through their hematopoietic supporting function, which was certainly linked to their role in the maintenance of the bone marrow microenvironment. Depending on specific demands, BM-A may acquire different functions based on their local environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)558-566
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Hematology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Hematology


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