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J Biomed Mater Res A. 2007 Jul;82(1):230-7.

Development of a useful technique to discriminate anterior cruciate ligament cells and mesenchymal stem cells--the application of cell electrophoresis.

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Institute of Biomedical Engineering, College of Medicine and College of Engineering, National Taiwan University, Taipei 100, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can differentiate into multiple nonhematopoietic cell lineages, including osteoblasts, chondrocytes, and ligament cells. The purpose of this study is to identify the difference between MSCs and anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) cells for the application of distinguishing these two cells during the process of MSCs differentiating into ACL cells. Although culture of MSCs and ACL cells have been studied extensively, it was found that these two cells could not be distinguished from their appearance, expression of surface antigens (including CD105, CD34, CD45, CD29, CD44, and CD71), alpha-smooth muscle actin, and mRNAs for type I collagen, type III collagen, and tenascin-C, based on a series of traditional methods for cell identification. Cell electrophoresis, measuring the electrophoretic mobility (EPM) of cells, was proposed to investigate the discrepancy in surface charge properties of MSCs and ACL cells. Surprisingly, the EPM value of MSCs is significantly greater than that of ACL cells (p < 0.001). Although cell electrophoresis cannot determine the specific surface protein, it can reflect the net surface charge density of cell membrane, which can be influenced by the dissociation of functional groups of peripheral membrane proteins. Therefore, it is suggested that cell electrophoresis, while simple and cheap in manipulation, can serve as a useful research tool to assist in identification of MSCs differentiating into ACL cells.

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