Accumulating evidence suggests that the delivery of human adipose tissue-derived stromal cells (hASCs) has great potential as regenerative therapy. This was performed to develop a method for expanding hASCs by reducing the amount of serum required. We demonstrate that hASCs were able to expand efficiently in media containing 2% serum and fibroblast growth factor-2. These cells, or low serum cultured hASCs (hLASCs), expressed cell surface markers similar to those on bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells, and could be differentiated into cells of mesenchymal lineage. Of interest, hLASCs secreted higher levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) than hASCs cultured in 20% serum (hHASCs). Moreover, hLASC-conditioned media significantly increased endothelial cell (EC) proliferation and decreased EC apoptosis compared to that obtained from hHASCs or control media only. Antibodies against VEGF and HGF virtually negated these effects. When hASCs were administered into the ischemic hindlimbs of nude rats, hLASCs improved blood flow, increased capillary density, and raised the levels of VEGF and HGF in the muscles as compared with hHASCs. In conclusion, we demonstrate a novel low serum culture system for hASCs, which may have great potential in regenerative cell therapy for damaged organs in the clinical setting.
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