Background Adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs) are a robust, multipotent cell source. They are easily obtained and hold promise in many regenerative applications. It is generally considered that the function of somatic stem cells declines with age. Although several studies have examined the effects of donor age on proliferation potential and pluripotency of ASCs, the results of these studies were not consistent. Objective This study tested whether the donor age affects the yield of ASCs from adipose tissue, as well as the proliferation and differentiation potentials of ASCs. Methods This study used ASCs obtained from adipose tissues of 260 donors (ages 5–97 years). ASCs were examined for individual differences in proliferation, and adipogenic, osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation potentials in vitro. Characteristics of ASCs from each donor were evaluated by the principal component analysis (PCA) using their potential parameters. Results Analyses on ASCs demonstrated that adipogenic potentials declined with age, but proliferation, osteogenic and chondrogenic potentials were not correlated with age. Interestingly, in all ASC potentials, including adipogenesis, individual differences were observed. Principal component analysis (PCA) revealed that individual differences became evident in the elderly, and those variations were more prominent in females than in males. Conclusions This study demonstrated age-related changes in the potentials of ASCs and revealed that the individual differences of ASCs become significant in people over 60 years of age (for females over 60, and for males over 80). We believe that it is important to carefully observe ASC potentials in order to achieve effective regenerative medicine treatments using ASCs.
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