C.K.F. Chan et al., “Identification of the human skeletal stem cell,” Cell, doi:10.1016/ j.cell.2018.07.029, 2018.
Skeletal stem cells in humans, the bone marrow support cells, have been discovered. Researchers determined that these stem cells are self replicating and multipotent.
Nonhematopoietic cells were taken from a human fetal femur and separated from blood precursors. The non blood cell’s RNA was sequenced to determine the profiles of the cells located in the growth region of the fetal bone. Four proteins were discovered, none of which had the same markers seen in mice.
The researchers hypothesized that the presence or absence of the markers would define skeletal stem cells. They then cultured the cells to see if they were able to self regenerate and differentiate into bone marrow support cells (stroma, bone, and cartilage). A key discovery was unlike mesenchymal stem cells, these cells did not become fat cells, thus differentiating them as their own unique type of stem cells.
The skeletal stem cells were also isolated from damaged and undamaged adult femurs, providing a more accessible source than fetal femurs. Researchers found they could derive the skeletal stem cells from blood cells and adipose tissue by utilizing certain growth factors.