Pre-culturing human adipose tissue mesenchymal stem cells under hypoxia increases their adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation potentials


Correspondence: M. G. Valorani, Centre for Diabetes, Blizard Institute, Barts & The London School of Medicine & Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, 4 Newark Street, London E1 2AT, UK. Tel.: +0207 882 2364; Fax: +0207 882 2186; E-mail:



Hypoxia is an important factor in many aspects of stem-cell biology including their viability, proliferation, differentiation and migration. We evaluated whether low oxygen level (2%) affected human adipose tissue mesenchymal stem-cell (hAT-MSC) phenotype, population growth, viability, apoptosis, necrosis and their adipogenic and osteogenic differentiation potential.

Materials and methods

hAT-MSCs from four human donors were cultured in growth medium under either normoxic or hypoxic conditions for 7 days and were then transferred to normoxic conditions to study their differentiation potential.


Hypoxia enhanced hAT-MSC expansion and viability, whereas expression of mesenchymal markers such as CD90, CD73 and endothelial progenitor cell marker CD34, remained unchanged. We also found that pre-culturing hAT-MSCs under hypoxia resulted in their enhanced ability to differentiate into adipocytes and osteocytes.


This protocol could be useful for maximizing hAT-MSC potential to differentiate in vitro into the adipogenic and osteogenic lineages, for use in plastic and reconstructive surgery, and in tissue engineering strategies.