Increasing evidence suggests that the mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) derived from placenta of fetal origin (fPMSCs) are superior to MSCs of other sources for cell therapy. Since the initial number of isolated MSCs is limited, in vitro propagation is often required to reach sufficient numbers of cells for therapeutic applications, during which MSCs may undergo genetic and/or epigenetic alterations that subsequently increase the probability of spontaneous malignant transformation. Thus, factors that influence genomic and epigenetic stability of MSCs following long-term expansions need to be clarified before cultured MSCs are employed for clinical settings. To date, the genetic and epigenetic stability of fPMSCs after long-term in vitro expansion has not been fully investigated. In this report, alterations to histone acetylation and consequence on the expression pattern of fPMSCs following in vitro propagation under serum-free conditions were explored. The results show that fPMSCs maintain their MSC characteristics before they reached a senescent state. Furthermore, acetylation modification patterns were changed in fPMSCs along with gradually increased global histone deacetylase (HDAC) activity and expression of HDAC subtypes HDAC4, HDAC5 and HDAC6, as well as a down-regulated global histone H3/H4 acetylation during in vitro culturing. In line with the acetylation alterations, the expression of oncogenes Oct4, Sox2 and TERT were significantly decreased over the propagation period. Of note, the down-regulation of Oct4 was strongly associated with changes in acetylation. Intriguingly, telomere length in fPMSCs did not significantly change during the propagating process. These findings suggest that human fPMSCs may be a safe and reliable resource of MSCs and can be propagated under serum-free conditions with less risk of spontaneous malignancy, and warrants further validation in clinical settings.
Zhu, Y., Song, X., Han, F., Li, Y., Wei, J., & Liu, X. (2015). Alteration of histone acetylation pattern during long-term serum-free culture conditions of human fetal placental mesenchymal stem cells. PLoS ONE, 10(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0117068