Plasticity of human dedifferentiated adipocytes toward endothelial cells

Antonella Poloni, Giulia Maurizi, Sara Anastasi, Eleonora Mondini, Domenico Mattiucci, Giancarlo Discepoli, Fabiola Tiberi, Stefania Mancini, Stefano Partelli, Angela Maurizi, Saverio Cinti, Attilio Olivieri, Pietro Leoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The process of cellular differentiation in terminally differentiated cells is thought to be irreversible, and these cells are thought to be incapable of differentiating into distinct cell lineages. Our previous study showed that mature adipocytes represent an alternative source of mesenchymal stem cells. Here, results showed the capacity of mature adipocytes to differentiate into endothelial-like cells, using the ability of these cells to revert into an immature phase without any relievable chromosomal alterations. Mature adipocytes were isolated from human omental and subcutaneous fat and were dedifferentiated invitro. The resulting cells were subcultivated for endothelial differentiation and were analyzed for their expression of specific genes and proteins. Endothelial-like cells were harvested from the differentiation medium and were traditionally cultured to evaluate the endothelial markers and the karyotype. Cells cultured in specific medium formed tube-like structures and expressed several endothelial marker genes and proteins. The endothelial-like cells expressed significantly higher levels of vascular endothelium growth factor receptor 2, vascular endothelial cadherin, Von Willebrand factor, and CD133 than the untreated cells. These cells were positively stained for CD31 and vascular endothelial cadherin, markers of mature endothelial cells. Moreover, the low-density lipoprotein-uptake assay demonstrated a functionally endothelial differentiation of these cells. When these cells were harvested and reseeded in basal medium, they lost the endothelial markers and reacquired the typical mesenchymal stem cell markers and the ability to expand in a short time period. Moreover, karyotype analysis showed that these cells reverted into an immature phase without any karyotype alterations. In conclusion, the results showed that adipocytes exhibited a great plasticity toward the endothelial lineage, suggesting their possible use in cell therapy applications for vascular disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-146
Number of pages10
JournalExperimental Hematology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Hematology
  • Medicine(all)


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