Mesenchymal stem cells have been isolated from various adult human tissues and are valuable for not only therapeutic applications, but for the study of tissue homeostasis and disease progression. Subcutaneous adipose depots have been shown to contain large amounts of stem cells. There is little information that has been reported to date describing the isolation and characterization of mesenchymal stem cells from visceral adipose tissue. In this study we describe a mesenchymal stem cell population isolated from mediastinal adipose depots. The cells express CD44, CD105, CD166, and CD90 and are negative for hematopoietic markers CD34, CD45, and HLA-DR. In addition the cells have a multi-lineage potential, with the ability to differentiate into adipogenic, osteogenic and chondrogenic cell types. The biological function of visceral adipose tissue remains largely unknown and uncharacterized. However, the proximity of adipose tissue to the heart suggests a potential role in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease in obesity. In addition, with the ability of fat to regulate metabolic activity in humans this novel stem cell source maybe useful to further study the mechanisms involved in metabolic disorders.
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