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Biology And Applications Of Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Posted on 18. May, 2010.

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Mesenchymal stem cells have the ability to modulate the immune system opening a wide range of therapeutic applications, mainly for autoimmune diseases and graft-versus-host disease.

Undifferentiated adult stem cells are responsible for cell replacement in adult organisms. Initially isolated from the bone marrow, they are now known to be distributed throughout the organism as a whole, with a perivascular location. They are defined by properties which include proliferation as adherent cells, a defined immunophenotype, and the capacity to differentiate in vitro into osteoblasts, adipocytes and chondroblasts.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are considered as one of the most promising cell types for therapeutic applications. Mechanisms responsible for this therapeutic role are not well understood, and may involve differentiation or, as most evidences point out, paracrine activity. The ability to modulate the immune system opens a wide range of applications, mainly for autoimmune diseases and graft-versus-host disease. Preclinical and clinical studies show promising results, but controversial results are still reported, indicating the need for further basic and preclinical investigation on their therapeutic potential.

This review will focus on recent advances in understanding MSC biology and applications in cell therapy.

Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil)

Read the full article in Science Progress, Volume 93, Number 2, June 2010, pp.113-127