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Transfus Med Hemother. 2008;35(3):185-193. Epub 2008 May 16.

The Stromal Activity of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells.

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Department of Medicine V, University of Heidelberg, Germany.


The mechanism that regulates self-renewal and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) is a central question in stem cell biology that might ultimately lead to reliable protocols for in vitro expansion of HSC. Cellular fate is governed by cell-cell interaction with the microenvironment in the bone marrow, the stem cell niche. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) are precursors of the cellular components, and they secrete extracellular matrix proteins of the bone marrow stroma. Therefore, MSC feeder layer might provide a suitable in vitro model system for the stem cell niche. In vitro assays demonstrate that MSC maintain the stem cell function of HSC and that MSC from bone marrow have a higher hematopoiesis supportive activity than MSC from adipose tissue. Co-cultivation with MSC might pave the way for expansion of long-term repopulating HSC, and various clinical trials indicate that co-transplantation of HSC and MSC might enhance engraftment. Thus, MSC are promising tools to elucidate the underlying mechanism of the cellular microenvironment. The large variety of preparative protocols for isolation and cultivation of MSC affects their stromal activity. Standardized isolation methods and molecular characterization of MSC are of utmost importance for reproducible isolation of hematopoiesis supportive stromal cells and for their potential clinical application.

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