Matrix directed adipogenesis and neurogenesis of mesenchymal stem cells derived from adipose tissue and bone marrow

Junmin Lee, Amr A. Abdeen, Xin Tang, Taher A. Saif, Kristopher A. Kilian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can differentiate into multiple lineages through guidance from the biophysical and biochemical properties of the extracellular matrix. In this work we conduct a combinatorial study of matrix properties that influence adipogenesis and neurogenesis including: adhesion proteins, stiffness, and cell geometry, for mesenchymal stem cells derived from adipose tissue (AT-MSCs) and bone marrow (BM-MSCs). We uncover distinct differences in integrin expression, the magnitude of traction stress, and lineage specification to adipocytes and neuron-like cells between cell sources. In the absence of media supplements, adipogenesis in AT-MSCs is not significantly influenced by matrix properties, while the converse is true in BM-MSCs. Both cell types show changes in the expression of neurogenesis markers as matrix cues are varied. When cultured on laminin conjugated microislands of the same adhesive area, BM-MSCs display elevated adipogenesis markers, while AT-MSCs display elevated neurogenesis markers; integrin analysis suggests neurogenesis in AT-MSCs is guided by adhesion through integrin αvβ3. Overall, the properties of the extracellular matrix guides MSC adhesion and lineage specification to different degrees and outcomes, in spite of their similarities in general characteristics. This work will help guide the selection of MSCs and matrix components for applications where high fidelity of differentiation outcome is desired. Statement of Significance Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are an attractive cell type for stem cell therapies; however, in order for these cells to be useful in medicine, we need to understand how they respond to the physical and chemical environments of tissue. Here, we explore how two promising sources of MSCs—those derived from bone marrow and from adipose tissue—respond to the compliance and composition of tissue using model extracellular matrices. Our results demonstrate a source-specific propensity to undergo adipogenesis and neurogenesis, and uncover a role for adhesion, and the degree of traction force exerted on the substrate in guiding these lineage outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-55
Number of pages10
JournalActa Biomaterialia
StatePublished - Sep 15 2016


  • Adipose derived
  • Bone marrow
  • Differentiation
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Molecular Biology


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