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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2006 Mar;63(5):616-26.

In vivo matrix-guided human mesenchymal stem cells.

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  • 1Department of Medical Molecular Biology, University of Lübeck, 23538, Lübeck, Germany.


Microfracture of subchondral bone results in intrinsic repair of cartilage defects. Stem or progenitor cells from bone marrow have been proposed to be involved in this regenerative process. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that mesenchymal stem (MS) cells can in fact be recovered from matrix material saturated with cells from bone marrow after microfracture. This also introduces a new technique for MS cell isolation during arthroscopic treatment. MS cells were phenotyped using specific cell surface antibodies. Differentiation of the MS cells into the adipogenic, chondrogenic and osteogenic lineage could be demonstrated by cultivation of MS cells as a monolayer, as micromass bodies or mesenchymal microspheres. This study demonstrates that MS cells can be attracted to a cartilage defect by guidance of a collagenous matrix after perforating subchondral bone. Protocols for application of MS cells in restoration of cartilage tissue include an initial invasive biopsy to obtain the MS cells and time-wasting in vitro proliferation and possibly differentiation of the cells before implantation. The new technique already includes attraction of MS cells to sites of cartilage defects and therefore may overcome the necessity of in vitro proliferation and differentiation of MS cells prior to transplantation.

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