Mitochondrial bioenergetic function and metabolic plasticity in stem cell differentiation and cellular reprogramming

Chien Tsun Chen, Shu Han Hsu, Yau Huei Wei*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Background: The self-renewal ability and pluripotent differentiation potential of stem cells hold great promise for regenerative medicine. Many studies focus on the lineage-specific differentiation and expansion of stem cells, but little is known about the regulation of glycolysis and mitochondrial biogenesis and function during these processes. Recent studies have demonstrated a strong correlation between cellular metabolism and the pluripotency and differentiation potential of stem cells, which indicates the importance of bioenergetic function in the regulation of stem cell physiology. Scope of review: We summarize recent findings in the control of stem cell competence through the regulation of bioenergetic function in embryonic, hematopoietic, mesenchymal, and induced pluripotent stem cells, and discuss the up-to-date understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in these biological processes. Major conclusions: It is believed that the metabolic signatures are highly correlated with the stemness status (high glycolytic flux) and differentiation potential (mitochondrial function) of stem cells. Besides, mitochondrial rejuvenation has been observed to participate in the reprogramming process. General significance: Understanding the metabolic regulation of stem cells will have great value in the characterization and isolation of stem cells with better differentiation potential. It also provides novel strategies of metabolic manipulation to increase the efficiency of cellular reprogramming. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Biochemistry of Mitochondria, Life and Intervention 2010.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)571-576
Number of pages6
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects
Issue number5
StatePublished - 05 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell differentiation
  • Cellular reprogramming
  • Metabolic shift
  • Mitochondria
  • Pluripotency
  • Stem cells


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