Stem Cells 2012 Mar;30(3):481-90
Department of Urology, Sichuan University, Chengdu, Sichuan, China.
Human adipose-derived stem cells hASC have been isolated and were shown to have multilineage differentiation capacity. Although both plasticity and cell fusion have been suggested as mechanisms for cell differentiation in vivo, the effect of the local in vivo environment on the differentiation of adipose-derived stem cells has not been evaluated. We previously reported the in vitro capacity of smooth muscle differentiation of these cells. In this study, we evaluate the effect of an in vivo smooth muscle environment in the differentiation of hASC. We studied this by two experimental designs: (a) in vivo evaluation of smooth muscle differentiation of hASC injected into a smooth muscle environment and (b) in vitro evaluation of smooth muscle differentiation capacity of hASC exposed to bladder smooth muscle cells. Our results indicate a time-dependent differentiation of hASC into mature smooth muscle cells when these cells are injected into the smooth musculature of the urinary bladder. Similar findings were seen when the cells were cocultured in vitro with primary bladder smooth muscle cells. Chromosomal analysis demonstrated that microenvironment cues rather than nuclear fusion are responsible for this differentiation. We conclude that cell plasticity is present in hASCs, and their differentiation is accomplished in the absence of nuclear fusion.