What Are Human Skeletal Stem Cells?

The stem cells that we know today all boiled down to two different types: the embryonic or pluripotent stem cells and the adult or mesenchymal stem cells. Because of the use of the first one is always filled with controversy, people would only resort to using adult stem cells instead.

For years, research has been ongoing to learn more about stem cells. There was this study that discovered some skeletal stem cells from mice. It turns out that humans also possess these precursor cells as well.

The beauty of the skeletal stem cells is that unlike other stem cells found in the human body, it can actually differentiate into other cells in the body when needed. That is the limitation of adult stem cells for quite some time and the only way for scientists to turn them into anything else would be to induce pluripotency that can only be done in specific laboratory environments.

That being said, Richard Oreffo, a stem cell biologist at the University of Southampton in the UK, said that there is still much work to be done, but this is actually a huge leap forward in the field of medical science and stem cells.

Why Are Skeletal Stem Cells So Special?

For you to better understand why skeletal stem cells are special, I want to point out one of the many uses of stem cells first. Well, stem cells can be differentiated into the many different cells of our bodies depending on the need.

For many years, surgeons are struggling to reconstruct bone from patients who have suffered bone damage. One of the ways that could potentially help them do this is by searching for skeletal stem cells.

The research has led the team of Michael Longaker to find the said stem cells in mice and ever since then, they got to the point that they also found such stem cells in the bodies of humans as well.

The Research

To test Longaker’s assumption, they used a cell sorting procedure that uses the cell’s own fluorescence to help isolate groups of cells that are positive for CD73, PDPN, and CI164. They also make it so that the cells are negative for CD146.

The cells that were used were capable of regeneration and differentiation into bone, stroma, and cartilage cells in mice.

The reason why the cells that were used were not deemed as Mesenchymal stem cells is the fact that they do not turn into fat cells. They used the term to refer to any adult stem cell that was derived from the patient’s own body.

Longaker and his team extracted the skeletal stem cells from fetal bone in human subjects. They first made sure that the said stem cells are present and would then proceed with the extraction. They would also be able to extract human skeletal stem cells from the adipose stroma or the non-fat, non-vascular cells.

However, even though the extracted cells are what they ought to be, further research would need to be conducted to study its efficacy when used as treatments.