Mesenchymal stem cells in obesity: insights for translational applications.
Obesity is now a major public health problem worldwide. Lifestyle modification to reduce the characteristic excess body adiposity is important in the treatment of obesity, but effective therapeutic intervention is still needed to control what has become an obesity epidemic. Unfortunately, many anti-obesity drugs have been withdrawn from market due to adverse side effects. Bariatric surgery therefore remains the most effective therapy for severe cases, although such surgery is invasive and researchers continue to seek new control strategies for obesity. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a major source of adipocyte generation, and studies have been conducted into the potential roles of MSCs in treating obesity. However, despite significant progress in stem cell research and its potential applications for obesity, adipogenesis is a highly complex process and the molecular mechanisms governing MSC adipogenesis remain ill defined. In particular, successful clinical application of MSCs will require extensive identification and characterization of the transcriptional regulators controlling MSC adipogenesis. Since obesity is associated with the incidence of multiple important comorbidities, an in-depth understanding of the relationship between MSC adipogenesis and the comorbidities of obesity is also necessary to evaluate the potential of effective and safe MSC-based therapies for obesity. In addition, brown adipogenesis is an attractive topic from the viewpoint of therapeutic innovation and future research into MSC-based brown adipogenesis could lead to a novel breakthrough. Ongoing stem cell studies and emerging research fields such as epigenetics are expected to elucidate the complicated mechanisms at play in MSC adipogenesis and develop novel MSC-based therapeutic options for obesity. This review discusses the current understanding of MSCs in adipogenesis and their potential clinical applications for obesity.
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