Programming human pluripotent stem cells into white and brown adipocytes

Tim Ahfeldt, Robert T. Schinzel, Youn Kyoung Lee, David Hendrickson, Adam Kaplan, David H. Lum, Raymond Camahort, Fang Xia, Jennifer Shay, Eugene P. Rhee, Clary B. Clish, Rahul C. Deo, Tony Shen, Frank H. Lau, Alicia Cowley, Greg Mowrer, Heba Al-Siddiqi, Matthias Nahrendorf, Kiran Musunuru, Robert E. GersztenJohn L. Rinn, Chad A. Cowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

204 Scopus citations


The utility of human pluripotent stem cells is dependent on efficient differentiation protocols that convert these cells into relevant adult cell types. Here we report the robust and efficient differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells into white or brown adipocytes. We found that inducible expression of PPARG2 alone or combined with CEBPB and/or PRDM16 in mesenchymal progenitor cells derived from pluripotent stem cells programmed their development towards a white or brown adipocyte cell fate with efficiencies of 85%-90%. These adipocytes retained their identity independent of transgene expression, could be maintained in culture for several weeks, expressed mature markers and had mature functional properties such as lipid catabolism and insulin-responsiveness. When transplanted into mice, the programmed cells gave rise to ectopic fat pads with the morphological and functional characteristics of white or brown adipose tissue. These results indicate that the cells could be used to faithfully model human disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-219
Number of pages11
JournalNature Cell Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


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