Copyright © 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
To minimize the risk of tumorigenesis in mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), G-banding analysis is widely used to detect chromosomal aberrations in MSCs. However, a critical limitation of G-banding is that it only reflects the status of metaphase cells, which can represent as few as 0.01% of tested cells. During routine cytogenetic testing in MSCs, we often detect chromosomal aberrations in minor cell populations. Therefore, we aimed to investigate whether such a minority of cells can expand over time or if they ultimately disappear during MSC passaging. We passaged MSCs serially while monitoring quantitative changes for each aberrant clone among heterogeneous MSCs. To investigate the cytogenetic status of interphase cells, which represent the main population, we also performed interphase FISH analysis, in combination with G-banding and telomere length determination. In human adipose tissue-derived MSCs, 4 types of chromosomal aberrations were found during culturing, and in umbilical cord MSCs, 2 types of chromosomal aberrations were observed. Sequential dynamic changes among heterogeneous aberrant clones during passaging were similar to the dynamic changes observed in cancer stem cells during disease progression. Throughout all passages, the quantitative G-banding results were inconsistent with those of the interphase FISH analysis. Interphase FISH revealed hidden aberrations in stem cell populations with normal karyotypes by G-banding analysis. We found that telomere length gradually decreased during passaging until the point at which cytogenetic aberrations appeared. The present study demonstrates that rare aberrant clones at earlier passages can become predominant clones during later passages. Considering the risk of tumorigenesis due to aberrant MSCs, we believe that our results will help to establish proper safety guidelines for MSC use. In particular, we believe it is critical to test for chromosomal aberrations using both G-banding and FISH to ensure the safety of human stem cells that are manufactured in vitro for clinical applications.