FAT METABOLISM AND STEM CELL GROUP (FMSCG)
Group Leader: Dr Shigeki Sugii
The overall research theme of our group is to understand molecular identity and functions of fat-derived stem cells and to make use of them for treating metabolic disorders.
We are taking a comprehensive molecular discovery approach to delineate the molecular identity of adipose-derived stem cells (ASC) and metabolic pathways involved in adipocyte differentiation by using bioimaging and other analytic approaches. We particularly study the biological difference between ASCs from two pathophysiologically distinct adipose tissues; visceral (unhealthy) and subcutaneous (healthy) fat depots. For example, through high throughput image screening, we recently identified specific cell surface markers, CD10 for human subcutaneous ASCs and CD200 for visceral ASCs, whose expression levels predict adipogenic maturity of ASCs.
Once we identify molecular factors that are associated with quality of ASCs, these are studied more in detail on their applications for cell therapies. Fat tissue is an abundant source of proliferating, multipotent stem cells (i.e. ASCs), which offers high potentials for future regenerative medicine. We are interested in converting ASCs into energy-burning brown-like adipocytes, which would be a promising strategy for treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes. In addition, we can efficiently reprogram ASCs into induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which can then be differentiated into clinically useful cell types. By collaborating with other groups including imaging scientists and clinicians, we develop a suitable platform for cellular modeling, transplantation and tracking where human fat biopsies are converted into relevant cell types, enabling us to explore molecular mechanisms and treatment options for metabolic diseases. This ASC-iPSC system will be valuable for personalized drug screening/testing, human disease modeling, and ultimately, cell therapies.