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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 793823, 14 pages
Review Article

Mechanisms Underlying the Osteo- and Adipo-Differentiation of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Department of Natural Sciences, Bonn-Rhine-Sieg University of Applied Sciences, von-Liebig-Straße 20, 53359 Rheinbach, Germany

Received 31 August 2011; Accepted 15 October 2011

Academic Editors: J.-T. Cheng, J. M. Nesland, and V. Pistoia

Copyright © 2012 Yu Zhang 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.


Human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) are considered a promising cell source for regenerative medicine, because they have the potential to differentiate into a variety of lineages among which the mesoderm-derived lineages such adipo- or osteogenesis are investigated best. Human MSCs can be harvested in reasonable to large amounts from several parts of the patient’s body and due to this possible autologous origin, allorecognition can be avoided. In addition, even in allogenic origin-derived donor cells, hMSCs generate a local immunosuppressive microenvironment, causing only a weak immune reaction. There is an increasing need for bone replacement in patients from all ages, due to a variety of reasons such as a new recreational behavior in young adults or age-related diseases. Adipogenic differentiation is another interesting lineage, because fat tissue is considered to be a major factor triggering atherosclerosis that ultimately leads to cardiovascular diseases, the main cause of death in industrialized countries. However, understanding the differentiation process in detail is obligatory to achieve a tight control of the process for future clinical applications to avoid undesired side effects. In this review, the current findings for adipo- and osteo-differentiation are summarized together with a brief statement on first clinical trials.