Durham, NC – Mesenchymal (MSC) stem cells send out “homing signals” that recruit other stem cells and mobilize them to heal wounds, researchers at the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science have discovered. MSC stem cells are better suited to initiating the healing process rather than repairing tissue damage themselves, the researchers explain in an article in the current issue of Stem Cells Translational Medicine.
Scientists Daniel Peterson and Laura Shin used MSC cells extracted from human bone marrow and grafted them into wounds of healthy mice and mice with diabetes. Mice in both groups each had two separate wounds to better allow the researchers to study the precise role the cells played in healing.
Some mice in each group received MSC cells in one wound while others did not receive the cells at all.
After studying the differences in healing, signaling and cell populations in the mice, Peterson and Shin learned that both normal and impaired mice given MSC cells healed more quickly, even in wounds that did not receive direct MSC cell grafts.
“The mice that received MSC cells demonstrated a systemic response,” Peterson said. “This suggests that the key to repairing injured tissue does not hinge on where you place the MSC cells in the body, but on learning exactly how the MSC cells recruit their counterparts already in the body.”
Researchers have investigated the behavior of MSC cells in a wide range of clinical trials including studies related to Crohn’s disease, Type 1 diabetes, bone defects and heart muscle disease. However, although MSC cells have come to be regarded as a “magic bullet” for tissue repair, no one until now has been able to explain how they do the job.
Discovering more about the signals MSC cells use to trigger the body’s own stem cells to heal could lead to new cell-free therapies, Peterson said. For example, scientists could develop treatments using small molecules or drugs as an alternative to costly cell-mediated therapies.
“These findings broaden our view of therapeutic targets to include the host response,” he said. “The improvement in impaired and normal wound healing has significant clinical relevance for all wounds, chronic and acute.”
“This study indicates that signals within the wound bed may be activated after engraftment, suggesting that controlling mobilization is a key to success in future therapies,” said Anthony Atala, MD, Editor of Stem Cells Translational Medicine and director of the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
Peterson and Shin are stem cell biologists at the Chicago Medical School, one of five schools and colleges at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, IL, where Peterson directs the Center for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. Their study was supported with funds from the U.S. Department of Energy, an American Diabetes Association Clinician Scientist Training Grant, and in part by an Intramural Award from Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.
The full article, “Human mesenchymal stem cell grafts enhance normal and impaired wound healing by recruiting existing endogenous tissue stem/progenitor cells,” can be accessed at http://www.StemCellsTM.com.
About STEM CELLS Translational Medicine: STEM CELLS TRANSLATIONAL MEDICINE (SCTM), published by AlphaMed Press, is a monthly peer-reviewed publication dedicated to significantly advancing the clinical utilization of stem cell molecular and cellular biology. By bridging stem cell research and clinical trials, SCTM will help move applications of these critical investigations closer to accepted best practices.
About AlphaMed Press: Established in 1983, AlphaMed Press with offices in Durham, NC, San Francisco, CA, and Belfast, Northern Ireland, publishes two other internationally renowned peer-reviewed journals: STEM CELLS® (www.StemCells.com), celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2012, is the world's first journal devoted to this fast paced field of research. The Oncologist® (www.TheOncologist.com), also a monthly peer-reviewed publication, entering its 18th year, is devoted to community and hospital-based oncologists and physicians entrusted with cancer patient care. All three journals are premier periodicals with globally recognized editorial boards dedicated to advancing knowledge and education in their focused disciplines.