Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are self-renewing cells that exhibit differentiation capacity and immune regulation ability. These versatile cells have a wide range of potential applications. However, the spontaneous differentiation and aging of MSCs during long-term culturing restrict the amount of cells available for therapies and tissue engineering. Thus, maintaining the biological characteristics of MSCs during long-term culturing is crucial. Chromatic modification via epigenetic regulatory mechanisms (e.g., histone acetylation, deacetylation, and methylation) is crucial in stem cell pluripotency. We investigated the effects of largazole or trichostatin A (TSA), a novel histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi), against human umbilical cord (hUC)-MSCs aging. Results show that low concentrations of largazole or TSA can significantly improve hUC-MSCs proliferation and delay hUC-MSCs aging. Largazole can better improve MSCs proliferation than TSA. HDAC is modulate histone H3 acetylation and methylation in the telomerase reverse-transcriptase, octamer-binding transcription factor 4, Nanog, C-X-C chemokine receptor 4, alkaline phosphatase, and osteopontin genes. HDACis can promote hUC-MSCs proliferation and suppress hUC-MSCs spontaneous osteogenic differentiation. HDACis can affect histone H3 lysine 9 or 14 acetylation and histone H3 lysine 4 dimethylation, thus increasing the mRNA expression of pluripotent and proliferative genes and suppressing the spontaneous differentiation of hUC-MSCs. J. Cell. Biochem. 114: 2231–2239, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
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