Stem cell membrane lipidomics: a critical woodworm
The importance of lipid metabolism in stem cell biology has increased in recent years. In particular, it has emerged that membrane lipidomics is responsible for coordinating many fundamental aspects of cell metabolism and it is now becoming a core player in stem cell physiology. There is still a long way to go in order to unravel the intricacy of membrane lipidomics functionality in stemness maintenance and differentiation patterns.
Despite its proven importance, membrane content and behavior is poorly considered in stem cell studies, which means that a major cellular compartment is left aside. In particular, due to significant alterations of the lipid content and consequently of the biophysical properties of cell membranes, most in-vitro stem cells differ greatly from their in-vivo counterparts, thus introducing substantial biases in studies and derived applications.
Kilpinen and co-workers have recently drawn attention on this problem in their interesting article, in which they demonstrate that extensive in-vitro expansion of BM-MSCs harmfully modulates membrane lipid composition, affecting lipid signaling and impairing their functionality. That being so, stem cell users should at least keep in mind this ubiquitous and underestimated problem.