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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2008 Jun 25;288(1-2):11-21. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2008.02.017. Epub 2008 Mar 4.

Skeletal stem cells: phenotype, biology and environmental niches informing tissue regeneration.

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  • 1Bone and Joint Research Group, Centre for Human Development, Stem Cells and Regeneration, Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, Institute of Developmental Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK.


Advances in our knowledge of the biology of skeletal stem cells, together with an increased understanding of the regeneration of normal tissue offer exciting new therapeutic approaches in musculoskeletal repair. Skeletal stem cells from various adult tissues such as bone marrow can be identified and isolated based on their expression of a panel of markers associated with smooth muscle cells, pericytes and endothelial cells. Thus, skeletal stem cell-like populations within bone marrow may share a common perivascular stem cell niche within the microvascular network. To date, the environmental niche that nurtures and maintains the stromal stem cell at different anatomical sites remains poorly understood. However, an understanding of the osteogenic and perivascular niches will inform identification of the key growth factors, matrix constituents and physiological conditions that will enhance the ex vivo amplification and differentiation of osteogenic stem cells to mimic native tissue critical for tissue repair. This review will examine skeletal stem cell biology, the advances in our understanding of the skeletal and perivascular niche and interactions therein and the opportunities to harness that knowledge for musculoskeletal regeneration.

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