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The microenvironment plays a critical role in directing the progression of stem cells into differentiated cells. So we investigated the role that cardiac microenvironment plays in directing this differentiation process. Adipose tissue-derived stem cells (ADSCs) were cultured with cardiomyocytes directly ("co-culture directly") or by cell culture insert ("co-culture indirectly"). For co-culture indirectly, differentiated ADSCs were collected and identified. For co-culture directly, ADSCs were labeled with carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester (CFSE), Fluorescence-activated cell sorting was used to extract and examine the differentiated ADSCs. The ultrastructure and the expression of cardiac specific proteins and genes were analyzed by SEM, TEM, western blotting, and RT-PCR, respectively. Differentiated ADSCs experienced the co-culture presented cardiac ultrastructure and expressed cardiac specific genes and proteins, and the fractions of ADSCs expressing these markers by co-culture directly were higher than those of co-culture indirectly. These data indicate that in addition to soluble signaling molecules, direct cell-to-cell contact is obligatory in relaying the external cues of the microenvironment controlling the differentiation of ADSCs to cardiomyocytes.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Cell Biochem

Publication Date





117 - 129


Adipose Tissue, Biomarkers, Cell Adhesion, Cell Differentiation, Cell Lineage, Coculture Techniques, Humans, Molecular Probes, Myocardium, Myocytes, Cardiac, Proteins, RNA, Messenger, Stem Cells