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Stem Cells International
Volume 2017, Article ID 7371615, 10 pages
Research Article

Insulin Promotes the Proliferation of Human Umbilical Cord Matrix-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells by Activating the Akt-Cyclin D1 Axis

1Stem Cell Research and Cellular Therapy Center, Affiliated Hospital of Guangdong Medical University, Zhanjiang, China
2Department of Spinal Surgery, Affiliated Hospital of Guangdong Medical University, Zhanjiang, China
3Laboratory Institute of Minimally Invasive Orthopedic Surgery, Affiliated Hospital of Guangdong Medical University, Zhanjiang, China
4Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine, Chungnam National University, Daejeon, Republic of Korea

Correspondence should be addressed to Kaipeng Jing; nc.ude.umdg@gnijk and Jiaqi Chu; nc.ude.umdg@iqaijuhc

Received 1 November 2016; Revised 19 February 2017; Accepted 14 March 2017; Published 18 April 2017

Academic Editor: Laura Lasagni

Copyright © 2017 Peng Li et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. The functions of insulin in mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) remain poorly understood. Methods. MSC from human umbilical cord matrix (UCM) cultured in serum-free media (SFM) with or without insulin were subjected to various molecular biological analyses to determine their proliferation and growth states, expression levels of Akt-cyclin D1 signaling molecules, and in vitro differentiation capacities. Results. Insulin accelerated the G1-S cell cycle progression of UCM-MSC and significantly stimulated their proliferation and growth in SFM. The pro-proliferative action of insulin was associated with augmented cyclin D1 and phosphorylated Akt expression levels. Akt inactivation remarkably abrogated insulin-induced increases in cyclin D1 expression and cell proliferation, indicating that insulin enhances the proliferation of UCM-MSC via acceleration of the G1-S transition mediated by the Akt-cyclin D1 pathway. Additionally, the UCM-MSC propagated in SFM supplemented with insulin exhibited similar specific surface antigen profiles and differentiation capacities as those generated in conventional media containing fetal bovine serum. Conclusions. These findings suggest that insulin acts solely to promote UCM-MSC proliferation without affecting their immunophenotype and differentiation potentials and thus have important implications for utilizing insulin to expand clinical-grade MSC in vitro.