To assess opportunities for mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), it is important to define the cell type. Broadly defined, mesenchymal stem cells are multi-potent stem cells that can differentiate into a diverse range of cell types.
More specifically, mesenchymal stem cells are non-hematopoietic stromal cells that are capable of differentiating into, and assisting in the repair of, tissues of both intra-mesenchymal and extra-mesenchymal lineages. Mesenchyme is a form of loose connective tissue within an embryo that contains undifferentiated cells capable of differentiating into bone, cartilage, connective tissue, and cells of the lymphatic and circulatory systems of an adult being.
As such, examples of intra-mesenchymal lineages include osteoblasts, chondrocytes, myocytes, and specialized cells of the circulatory and lymphatic systems. Non-mesenchymal lineages include beta-pancreatic islet cells, neural cells, and cells not associated with the circulatory, lymphatic, or musculo-skeletal systems. [Read more…]