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Ascorbic acid induces in vitro proliferation of human subcutaneous adipose tissue derived mesenchymal stem cells with upregulation of embryonic stem cell pluripotency markers Oct4 and SOX 2


Dr Pravin D Potdar, Department of Molecular Medicine and Biology. Jaslok Hospital and Research Center, 15 Dr G. Deshmukh Marg, Mumbai – 400 026, Maharashtra, India. Email:


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have immense therapeutic potential because of their ability to self-renew and differentiate into various connective tissue lineages. The in vitro proliferation and expansion of these cells is necessary for their use in stem cell therapy. Recently our group has developed and characterized mesenchymal stem cells from subcutaneous and visceral adipose tissue. We observed that these cells show a slower growth rate at higher passages and therefore decided to develop a supplemented medium, which will induce proliferation. Choi et al. have recently shown that the use of ascorbic acid enhances the proliferation of bone marrow derived MSCs. We therefore studied the effect of ascorbic acid on the proliferation of MSCs and characterized their phenotypes using stem cell specific molecular markers. It was observed that the use of 250 µM ascorbic acid promoted the significant growth of MSCs without loss of phenotype and differentiation potential. There was no considerable change in gene expression of cell surface markers CD105, CD13, Nanog, leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) and Keratin 18. Moreover, the MSCs maintained in the medium supplemented with ascorbic acid for a period of 4 weeks showed increase in pluripotency markers Oct4 and SOX 2. Also cells in the experimental group retained the typical spindle shaped morphology. Thus, this study emphasizes the development of suitable growth medium for expansion of MSCs and maintenance of their undifferentiated state for further therapeutic use.