STEM CELLS INTERNATIONAL
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Many tissues contain adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which may be used in tissue regeneration therapies. However, the MSC availability in most tissues is limited which demands expansion in vitro following isolation. Like many developing cells, the state of MSCs is affected by the surrounding microenvironment, and mimicking this natural microenvironment that supports multipotent or differentiated state in vivo is essential to understand for the successful use of MSC in regenerative therapies. Many researchers are, therefore, optimizing cell culture conditions in vitro by altering growth factors, extracellular matrices, chemicals, oxygen tension, and surrounding pH to enhance stem cells self-renewal or differentiation. Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) system has been demonstrated to play an important role in stem cell biology to either promote proliferation and self-renewal or enhance differentiation onset and outcome, depending on the cell culture conditions. In this review, we will describe the importance of IGFs, IGF-1 and IGF-2, in development and in the MSC niche and how they affect the pluripotency or differentiation towards multiple lineages of the three germ layers.