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Mesenchymal stem cells also known as MSCs are becoming the preferable choice of many patients because of its properties which includes differentiation and regenerative potential, immune modulation and reduction of inflammation.

In the previous age, MSC was used for treating medical conditions to repair tissues and also for regenerative medicines only. But now, with the evolution of its immune-modulating mechanisms, many clinics and hospitals are using MSCs to treat immune disorders. This special cell is a valuable asset for many medical clinics and hospitals due to its unique properties. Many clinical trials and researchers have noticed its potential to treat several conditions such as heart diseases, graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), and autoimmune diseases.

About Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are specialised cells which can be derived from various parts of the body such as bone marrow, adipose tissue, and umbilical cord tissue. These cells have the unique ability to differentiate themselves into different types of cells. They are like the versatile artists of the body’s cell community.

These cells have the power of renewing themselves and can turn into many types of cells. You can easily transplant these cells into someone’s body because of its less rejection property and will not cause any big fuss from the body’s defence system.

Scientists are excited about MSCs because they could help in treating many health problems and even help build new tissues.

Understanding the Term “Mesenchymal”

Mesenchymal is a type of tissue which is found in embryos and adults. You can also say that it is the type of embryonic connective tissue that comes from the mesoderm germ layer during development. You can witness that mesoderm plays a crucial role in the formation of connective tissues, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and various organs such as bones and muscles.

MSC can differentiate into various types of cells such as osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells), myocytes (muscle cells), and adipocytes (fat cells). These cells are the perfect medical term to repair tissues, wound healing, and organ development.

How to Identify Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells?

There are some minimal standards made that show which cell is human mesenchymal stem cells. These standards are suggested by the International Society for Cellular Therapy’s Mesenchymal and Tissue Stem Cell Committee. Those standards are as follows:

  1. Mesenchymal Stem Cells are the cells which stick to the plastic surface in normal culture dishes.
  1. There are some proteins which you can find in hMSCs like CD73, CD90, and CD105 on the cell surface. These cells lack certain markers which include CD45, CD34, CD14, and CD19 which are found on blood cells.
  1. If a cell is able to divide and differentiate into osteoblasts, adipocytes, and chondroblasts, then it will be a hMSCs.

As we learn more, we witness the ways to find mesenchymal stem cells might change. But following the guidelines from the ISCT will help us to describe them in the same way. This will make it easier for scientists to work together on research involving mesenchymal stem cells.

In recent days, research of MSCs has been delayed because there are different ways to isolate the cells, grow, and understand these cells. This makes it tough to compare different studies and see what they’re finding.

Mesenchymal Stem Cells’ Differentiation Capabilities

Mesenchymal stem cells are those specialised cells that have the potential to differentiate into various types of cells. The cells which MSCs can be differentiated are osteoblasts, chondrocytes, and adipocytes. There are also other types of cells in which human mesenchymal stem cells can be differentiated such as myocytes, (muscle cells), neurocytes (nerve cells), and stromal cells.

Let’s look after some other types of cells that can mesenchymal stem cells be differentiated to treat various medical conditions. This report is published in the journal Stem Cell Reviews and Reports according to the study. Those cells are as follow:

  • Osteoblasts (bone cells)
  • Chondrocytes (cartilage cells)
  • Adipocytes (fat cells)
  • Myocytes (muscle cells)
  • Neurocytes (nerve cells)
  • Hepatocytes (liver cells)
  • Pancreatic cells (pancreas cells)
  • Cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells)
  • Endothelial cells (blood vessel cells)
  • Epithelial cells (cells that line surfaces)

Whenever our body needs support to repair the injury, these cells come forward to rescue. They get to the damaged area and start changing themselves into specific types of cells which are essential for healing.

You have to keep one thing in mind which is that the differentiation ability of mesenchymal stem cells may be depend on various factors such as the source of the stem cells, how they are grown, and the environment they are in during culture.

Differentiation Potential, What Is It?

Differentiation potential is a medical term which means the ability of a cell to develop into various types of cells which involve switching from proliferation to specialisation. It is an important concept which holds potential to treat several different ranges of medical conditions.

For example, if an individual has heart damage, doctors use stem cells and differentiate them into specialised cells needed for heart healing which restore the damaged cells with the new ones and improve the health.

There are two factors that can control the process of differentiation of cells which are genetic factor and epigenetic factor. In genetic factors, working of genes can be controlled by certain proteins and chemical signals, and on the other hand, epigenetic factors include adding or removing chemicals on DNA, changing how proteins around DNA act, and adjusting how certain types of RNA are used.

Various stages are added into the process of differentiation which are:

  • Firstly, Certain genes in the cell’s DNA are turned on. This tells the cell which proteins to make.
  • Secondly, the cell starts growing and making more cells of its kind.
  • Lastly, cells develop and become mature which are ready for functioning.

Which Factors Can Impact the Differentiation Process?

The ability of cells to turn into different types of cells or also known as differentiation process can be influenced by several factors including:

  • Genetics: Our genes carry instructions that determine what kind of cell we can become.
  • Environmental factors: Things like temperature, chemicals, and nutrients in our surroundings can affect how our cells develop.
  • Signalling molecules: They can tell a cell to become a muscle cell, a nerve cell, or something else.
  • Neighbouring cells: Cells communicate with each other, and this communication can guide a cell’s development.

Mesenchymal stem cells’ ability to transform into specific cell types can be influenced by several factors such as stem cell niche, age of the person, source of the MSC, and culture conditions.

Function of Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Mesenchymal stem cells can be shown beneficial for treating various medical conditions. Patients experience remarkable results after taking these innovative cells. But knowing the functionality of this stem cell can increase your knowledge about it.  Here are some key functions of mesenchymal stem cells:

  1. Tissue Repair and Regeneration

MSCs are the cells which can be important for tissue repair and regeneration. It can be distinguished into specialised cell types such as bone cells, cartilage cells, fat cells, and many more which are needed for the repair of damaged tissues.

  1. Immunomodulation

These cells have immunomodulatory properties which are best suited to regulate the activity of the immune system. They can suppress the activity of immune cells such as T cells, B cells, and natural killer cells, thereby reducing inflammation and preventing the immune system from attacking healthy tissues.

  1. Anti-inflammatory Effects

MSCs secrete anti-inflammatory molecules that help reduce inflammation in the body. By secreting factors like interleukin-10 (IL-10) and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β), MSCs can dampen inflammatory responses and promote tissue healing.

  1. Angiogenesis

MSCs promote the formation of new blood vessels, a process known as angiogenesis. This is essential for delivering nutrients and oxygen to tissues and facilitating tissue repair and regeneration. MSCs secrete factors that stimulate the growth of blood vessels, promoting vascularization in damaged tissues.

  1. Support for Other Cell Types

MSCs provide support for other cells in the body by secreting growth factors and cytokines that promote the survival and function of nearby cells. They create a microenvironment conducive to tissue repair and regeneration.

Where Can Mesenchymal Stem Cell Be Derived From?

Using mesenchymal stem cells for treating various medical conditions will be a better option as compared to conventional treatment. These cells can be found in various part of the body and some of them are as follow:

  • Bone Marrow: You can find MSCs in the bone marrow of an individual easily because it is a common source of stem cells. Bone marrow is referred to as the spongy tissue which can be located inside the bone that carry immature cells. Bone marrow aspiration is the name of the procedure that is used for collecting these cells. This procedure is safe and simple.
  • Adipose Tissue (Fat Tissue): Adipose tissue is the tissue which rests inside the human body and contains fat. Researchers and doctors derived mesenchymal stem cells from this tissue with the help of the process called liposuction. In this process, a hollow stainless steel tube is used to remove the fat from the body.
  • Umbilical Cord Tissue: Umbilical cord tissue is also the area in which you can find MSCs. It is a human body tissue which connects the foetus to the placenta. Doctors take out these cells during the birth and store it for future use.
  • Peripheral Blood: MSCs present in peripheral blood offer a convenient and less invasive alternative for isolation. These circulating MSCs hold promise in various clinical applications, including cardiovascular repair and immunomodulation.
  • Placental Tissue: The placenta serves as a valuable source of MSCs, obtained postnatally without harm to the mother or the baby. Placental-derived MSCs exhibit potent immunomodulatory properties, making them suitable for treating autoimmune diseases and inflammatory disorders.
  • Synovial Fluid: Within the joints, synovial fluid contains a population of MSCs with regenerative potential. Isolation from synovial fluid provides a novel approach for addressing musculoskeletal conditions such as osteoarthritis and cartilage defects.
  • Dental Pulp: Dental pulp harbours a niche population of MSCs known as dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs). Accessible during routine dental procedures, DPSCs offer promise in regenerating dental and craniofacial tissues, as well as in nerve regeneration.

It is crucial to keep in mind that if you isolate and expand the MSC from various sources, then it can be dependent and have other properties. Furthermore, it will be more challenging and less efficient when you isolate these cells from Peripheral blood and synovial fluid. Mesenchymal stem cells can be effective if you derived it from bone marrow, adipose tissue, or umbilical cord.

Drawbacks of Mesenchymal Stem Cells

If mesenchymal stem cells show various benefits for treating several medical conditions, then on the other hand they have several drawbacks too. Below, we mentioned some limitations in points for your ease:

  1. Mesenchymal stem cells can be derived from various tissues and donors which makes them different. You can experience change in behaviour and effectiveness during treatment due to the diversity.
  1. MSCs are tricky to isolate and grow consistently in labs. This inconsistency can lead to unpredictable results in treatments.
  1. While MSCs can transform into certain cell types, like bone or cartilage, their ability to do so is limited compared to other stem cells.
  1. Ensuring the quality and purity of MSCs is challenging. Contaminants or impurities can affect their safety and effectiveness when used in treatments.
  1. Despite their potential, the safety and efficacy of MSC-based therapies aren’t fully understood. There’s still a need for more research to determine their long-term effects and optimise their use in clinical settings.

Difference between Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Hematopoietic Stem Cells

Hematopoietic stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells are similar types of adult stem cells but different from each other:

  1. Differential Potential
  • MSCs: Mesenchymal stem cells are known for their differential potential into various types of cells which include osteoblasts (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells), adipocytes (fat cells), and other types of cells too.
  • HSC: Hematopoietic stem cells can also differentiate but primarily in blood cells and immune system cells which are red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
  1. Source
  • MSC: You can isolate these cells from several sources of the body such as bone marrow, adipose tissue, umbilical cord, peripheral blood, placental tissue, etc.
  • HSC: These cells can be taken out from bone marrow and from the small numbers in the peripheral blood.

 

  1. Immune properties
  • MSC: Mesenchymal stem cells can change how the immune system works. They can calm down inflammation and make the immune system less active.
  • HSC: Hematopoietic stem cells make and take care of cells in the immune system. But they don’t have the same powers to change the immune system.

 

  1. Uses for Therapy
  • MSC: These cells are under several research and clinical trials for various therapeutic applications such as tissue repair, regenerative medicine, and cell-based therapies for various diseases.
  • HSC: Various blood disorders such as leukaemia, lymphoma, and sickle cell anaemia can be treated through using HSCs. It can also be used in bone marrow transplantation.

Note: These both cells are still under several clinical trials to know more about its therapeutic applications and properties.

Which Medical Conditions Can Be Treated By Mesenchymal Stem Cells?

Mesenchymal stem cells are becoming the preferable choice for treating various medical conditions because of its remarkable results. Here are some medical condition in which MSCs shows beneficial:

  • Osteoarthritis: It is a joint disease which worses if you don’t take serious precautions. But now it can be treated through MSC by promoting cartilage repair and reduction in inflammation.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: MSC has anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties which can be shown to be beneficial for treating rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Graft-Versus-Host Disease: You can witness this condition after taking bone marrow transplant but can be treated through MSCs’ immunosuppressive properties.
  • Myocardial Infarction: Researchers do their research to make MSC a perfect weapon against heart attacks by repairing heart tissue.
  • Spinal Cord Injury: The potential of MSCs to aid in the restoration of injured nerve tissue and spinal cord injuries has been studied.
  • Autoimmune Disease: Due to their proven anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory qualities, MSCs may be useful in the treatment of autoimmune conditions including lupus and multiple sclerosis.
  • Type 1 Diabetes: Researchers have looked into whether MSCs can help type 1 diabetics maintain their insulin-producing cells.
  • Lung Disease: MSCs is known for its potential to restore the lung tissue which is beneficial for such conditions which are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
  • Multiple Sclerosis: This disease can affect the central nervous system of the body which can be dangerous. But, MSCs have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties to treat this condition effectively.
  • Lyme Disease: The ability of MSCs to lower inflammation and improve the recovery of tissue damage brought on by the bacterial illness Lyme disease.
  • Parkinson’s Disease: Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative condition that impairs movement. MSCs have been studied for their potential to help protect and repair brain nerve cells that are destroyed in this condition.
  • ALS ( Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis): MSCs can be differentiated into various cell types such as nerve cells to repair the damaged cells in the spinal cord.

Notes: It is essential to know that more study is necessary to understand the full potential of MSCs to make it safe and effective for therapies. Furthermore, MSC treatment is still under research. In the late 19th century, the medical community knew of the existence of mesenchymal stem cells. Physicians can now augment and stimulate these cells to treat a variety of illnesses, thanks to recent breakthroughs.

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