Transdifferentiation of adipose-derived stem cells into keratinocyte-like cells: Engineering a stratified epidermis

Claudia Chavez-Munoz, Khang T. Nguyen, Wei Xu, Seok Jong Hong, Thomas A. Mustoe, Robert D. Galiano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Skin regeneration is an important area of research in the field of tissue-engineering, especially for cases involving loss of massive areas of skin, where current treatments are not capable of inducing permanent satisfying replacements. Human adipose-derived stem cells (ASC) have been shown to differentiate in-vitro into both mesenchymal lineages and nonmesenchymal lineages, confirming their trans differentiation ability. This versatile differentiation potential, coupled with their ease of harvest, places ASC at the advancing front of stem cell-based therapies. In this study, we hypothesized that ASC also have the capacity to trans differentiate into keratinocyte-like cells and furthermore are able to engineer a stratified epidermis. ASC were successfully isolated from lipoaspirates and cell sorted (FACS). After sorting, ASC were either cocultured with human keratinocytes or with keratinocyte conditioned media. After a 14-day incubation period, ASC developed a polygonal cobblestone shape characteristic of human keratinocytes. Western blot and q-PCR analysis showed the presence of specific keratinocyte markers including cytokeratin-5, involucrin, filaggrin and stratifin in these keratinocytelike cells (KLC); these markers were absent in ASC. To further evaluate if KLC were capable of stratification akin to human keratinocytes, ASC were seeded on top of human decellularized dermis and cultured in the presence or absence of EGF and high Ca2+ concentrations. Histological analysis demonstrated a stratified structure similar to that observed in normal skin when cultured in the presence of EGF and high Ca2+. Furthermore, immunohistochemical analysis revealed the presence of keratinocyte markers such as involucrin, cytokeratin-5 and cytokeratin-10. In conclusion this study demonstrates for the first time that ASC have the capacity to trans differentiate into KLC and engineer a stratified epidermis. This study suggests that adipose tissue is potentially a readily available and accessible source of keratinocytes, particularly for severe wounds encompassing large surface areas of the body and requiring prompt epithelialization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere80587
JournalPloS one
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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