Stem Cell Epigenetics Influence Plasticity
Researchers led by Dr. Manel Esteller, director of the Cancer Epigenetics and Biology Program at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute, have uncovered epigenetic changes in adult stem cells as they differentiate into other cell types. They focused their study on methylation patterns of adipose-derived stem cells, comparing these to the methylation patterns of precursor bone and muscle cells. The close similarities between the two suggest the intrinsic role these epigenetic factors play in cellular differentiation. Moreover, a comparison of muscle and bone cancer cells to these stem cells revealed that the stem cells do not have the same epigenome, meaning that from a biological perspective these stem cells are “safe” for future medical use. The study underscores the overall plasticity of stem cells.