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Biotechnol Appl Biochem. 2004 Aug;40(Pt 1):25-34.

Human adult craniofacial muscle-derived cells: neural-cell adhesion-molecule (NCAM; CD56)-expressing cells appear to contain multipotential stem cells.

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Eastman Dental Institute, University College London, 256 Gray's Inn Road, London WC1X 8LD, UK.


Skeletal muscle has been well characterized as a reservoir of myogenic precursors or satellite cells with the potential to participate in cellular repopulation therapies for muscle dysfunction. Recent evidence, however, suggests that the postnatal muscle compartment can be considered an alternative to bone marrow as a source of multipotent cells or muscle-derived stem cells (MDSCs). MDSCs, when primed with appropriate environmental cues, can differentiate into a variety of non-muscle cells. The present study describes the application of a new technique for the isolation of adult human myoblasts and putative MDSCs, based on microbead-immunomagnetic selection of CD56+ cells, derived from craniofacial skeletal muscle, and details changes in morphological/molecular phenotype of the purified cells when maintained in either a myogenic or a non-myogenic milieu. Multiple immunofluorescence microscopy and two-colour flow-cytometric analysis of proliferating CD56+ cultures revealed positive staining for myogenic markers (CD56, desmin and M-cadherin) as well as putative stem-cell markers [the antigens CD34, CD90 and CD106, and Flk-1 (fetal liver kinase-1)/VEGFR-2 (vascular-endothelial-growth-factor receptor)]. Confluent cultures subjected to cycles of adipogenic or osteogenic induction contained either adipocytes or osteoblasts and myotubes. In conclusion, the CD56+ subpopulation within adult human skeletal muscle is heterogeneous and is composed of both lineage-committed myogenic cells and multipotent cells (the candidate MDSCs), which are able to form non-muscle tissue such as fat and bone.

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