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Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are fibroblast-like cells isolated from bone marrow, adipose, and other tissues - including cord blood, peripheral blood, fetal liver, skeletal muscle, placenta, amniotic fluid and synovium.1-7 See MoreThese are all vascularized tissues, and accumulating evidence suggests that MSCs are pericytes8 which closely encircle endothelial cells in capillaries and microvessels of multiple organs.8-15

MSCs are defined by properties exhibited following in vitro culture. Namely the ability to self-renew, differentiate into bone, adipose and cartilage tissue,16 the expression of CD105, CD73 and CD90, and the lack of expression of CD45, CD34,CD11b and HLA-DR. While originally coined mesenchymal stem cells,17 MSCs are also referred to by other terms, such as multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells,16,18 mesenchymal progenitor cells19 or medicinal signaling cells.20 No single term has been uniformly adopted, and as a result, the acronym MSC is commonly used to encompass all terminologies applied to these cells.

MSCs have potential utility in a range of cellular therapies, with applications relating to tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, and as vehicles for gene therapy.21-24 To realize the therapeutic potential of MSCs, studies in animal models are of fundamental importance. Because MSCs are rare, occurring at an estimated frequency of 1 in 100,000 cells in adult human bone marrow, they must be expanded in vitro to obtain sufficient numbers for research and therapeutic applications.25 The ability to expand human MSCs in xeno-free or animal component-free medium may alleviate concerns about immune rejection of transplanted cells or disease transmission, and is therefore an important consideration when the MSCs are to be used therapeutically.25

Read a more comprehensive review about Mesenchymal Cells.


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