Date of Award

Fall 12-2015

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Yanlin Guo

Advisor Department

Biological Sciences


Embryonic stem cells (ESCs), due to their ability to differentiate into different cell types while still maintaining a high proliferation capacity, have been considered as a potential cell source in regenerative medicine. However, current ESC differentiation methods are low yielding and create heterogeneous cell populations. If transplanted in the human body, differentiated ESCs could be rejected by the immune system, form tumors, or may not function normally within the human body. On the other hand, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), a type of adult stem cell typically derived from bone marrow, have proved to be excellent candidates in clinical applications due to their defined differentiation capacity and immunoregulatory properties. However, MSCs lack sufficient expansion capacity and can only be derived from limited tissues. This project entails characterizing ESCs differentiated through retinoic acid induction as MSCs. It is speculated that these cells are MSCs due to the extensive similarities in behavior and differentiation capacity. To complete the characterization, the morphology of our MSCs was compared to naturally differentiated MSCs, and a cell cycle analysis was performed. The tentative MSCs were spontaneously differentiated into osteocytes, adipocytes, and chondrocytes, the three distinct cell lineages that characterize MSCs differentiation capacity. Based on the results, our cells were determined to be MSCs, thereby identifying them as ESC-MSCs. This is significant, because it allows for the formation of cells that bypass many of the challenges mentioned above. ESC-MSCs express combined advantages from both ESCs and MSCs, making them even better cell sources for future therapeutic applications.

Included in

Cell Biology Commons