Amount of Water in Stem Cells Can Determine Its Fate as Fat or Bone

September 29, 2017

Top images (A): Illustrates the development of stem cells on hydrogel, a soft substrate, to pre-bone cells after the removal of water. Bottom images (B): Depicts the development of stem cells on glass, a hard substrate, to pre-fat cells after the addition of water.*

Adding or removing water from a stem cell can change the destiny of the cell, researchers have discovered in a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

The research found that altering the volume of a cell changed its internal dynamics, including the rigidness of the matrix lining the outer surface. In stem cells, removing water condenses the cell, influencing the stem cells to become stiff pre-bone cells, while adding water causes the cells to swell, forming soft pre-fat cells. [...]

The study was led by Ming Guo, PhD, d'Arbeloff Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and David Weitz, PhD, Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics and of Applied Physics in the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University.

*Continue reading the "Amount of water in stem cells can determine its fate as fat or bone" by Marcene Robinson, September 26, 2017.

Also see the PNAS article: Ming Guoa, et al., "Cell volume change through water efflux impacts cell stiffness and stem cell fate,"Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017) doi: 10.1073/pnas.1705179114