Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs): Potential in Regenerative Medicine

Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs): Potential Applications in Regenerative Medicine

Author: Jonathan Pham
Review Date: 29/07/2019 | Last Modified: 29/11/2019
Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs): Potential Applications in Regenerative Medicine

Stem cells are basic cells that are capable of developing into specialized cells to replace damaged or weakened ones. The advent of stem cell technology marks a huge leap in regenerative medicine, opening hope for treatment of different diseases. Among them, mesenchymal stem cells are generally regarded as the most potent type of stem cells.

Learn the basics

What are Stem cells?

Unlike most body cells with specific functions, stem cells are unspecialized ones that do not yet play any specific role. Thanks to their ability to self-replicate and differentiate into different cell/tissue types under suitable conditions, stem cells are able to serve both healthcare and beauty care purposes.

Stem cells can be divided into 3 types: embryonic, adult and induced pluripotent stem cells. For adult stem cells, the main source of extraction is from mature tissues such as bone marrow, blood, umbilical cord, and fat.

An In-Depth Look at Mesenchymal stem cells

What are Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)?

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are adult stem cells that can replicate and differentiate into different types of tissue, including bone, cartilage, muscle, fat cells, etc. The name derives from the term “mesenchyme”, which refers to the developing connective tissue of the embryo, originating in the mesoderm and developing into most connective tissue cells.

The role of MSCs is to maintain and restore tissues – where these cells reside. In the case of severe injury or degeneration, the need for MSCs will exceed the amount found within the tissue.


Where can Mesenchymal stem cells be found?

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are obtained from various types of tissue, including umbilical cord, bone marrow, adipose tissue, amniotic fluid, endometrium, and so on. Among these sources, bone marrow, umbilical cord and adipose tissue are the most common ones.

Bone marrow is the first and most popular source of MSCs. Many researchers consider this to be the best source of cells and often use bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells as a standard for comparison with other MSCs.

Meanwhile, MSCs from the umbilical cord and placenta are easy to collect and have the highest differentiation potential. MSCs from umbilical cord agar are less diluted by other types of cells, while the umbilical cord can be used to collect both MSCs and hematopoietic stem cells.

For adipose (i.e: fat) tissue, this is the most abundant source of MSCs. Thanks to their large number, MSCs from adipose tissue are suitable for autologous transplantation right after differentiation, thus avoiding transplant rejection. In turn, their differentiation potential is inferior to that of bone marrow and umbilical cord MSCs.


What are the benefits of Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)?

Mesenchymal stem cells

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) boast various outstanding benefits over other types of stem cells.

  • No controversy. As their main sources are bone marrow and adipose tissue, the use of MSCs avoids ethical issues commonly associated with that of embryonic stem cells.
  • Great potential for differentiation. MSCs have the potential to differentiate into many different cell types in the laboratory. These include fat, bones (osteoblasts), skin, nerve, cartilage, skeletal cells, etc. In addition, MSCs can grow and propagate for long periods of time without losing the ability to differentiate.
  • High flexibility. MSCs are the most characteristic type of stem cells thanks to their high plasticity – the ability to create other systemic stem cells.
  • Less risk of transplant rejection. Research shows that MSCs are immune-privileged, hence suitable for allogeneic stem cell transplantation. In short, MSCs help reduce the risk of transplant rejection and other complications.

Why use MSCs?

There are a number of reasons for the current prevalence of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs):

  • MSCs can be cultured from a small portion of bone marrow cells, which are collected within a diagnostic puncture.
  • Intravenously transplanted MSCs are capable of selective penetrating (homing) into damaged tissue and organs, where they produce angiogenic, antiapoptotic, antioxidant and mitogenic effects (i.e: paracrine effects).
  • Transplantation of MSCs can promote the regeneration of vital body organs such as the heart, brain, and lungs.
  • MSCs enhance the acceptance of transplanted organs.
  • The safety of autologous and allogeneic transplantation of MSCs has been clinically proven.

Below are some of the paracrine factors secreted by MSCs.

Paracrine factors secreted by MSCs

Source: L. da Silva Meirelles et al./Cytokine & Growth Factor Reviews, 2009

You may be interested in: How is a Stem cell transplant carried out?


What are the uses of Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)?

MSCs’ great differentiation has brought great hope to regenerative medicine. Experiments on white mice showed that MSCs had the ability to reduce the progression of diseases such as neurodegeneration (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s), autoimmune diseases (low-grade joints), and cardiovascular disease (myocardial infarction), etc.

In humans, the number of clinical trials using MSCs has been increasing over the years. According to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), nearly 500 trials have been recorded. The diseases that receive most experiments include cardiovascular diseases (70 trials), autoimmune diseases (45), osteoarthritis (37), liver (32), respiratory disorders (21), …

Study results also concluded that the potential of MSCs gradually decreased with the age of donors and cell culture time. Therefore, the International Association for Cell Therapy recommends that doctors should only use MSCs from young patients instead of those taken from the elderly, as well as cultured and cryopreserved cells.

To learn more about the potential of stem cells in treating diseases, click here.

Illustration Video

Source: Kintaro Cells Power


In summary, these results have partly demonstrated the safety and treatment potential of mesenchymal stem cells. With additional research in the future, no wonder scientists will discover more new potentials of these stem cells.

At GO.CARE, we work with the best stem cell hospitals and clinics in Southeast Asia. Our partners are based in countries such as Thailand, Japan, and Vietnam. The therapy they offer can aid in treating different diseases. More information about our network can be found here.

Contact GO.CARE via phone/email to get a detailed consultation about stem cells. If you or your loved one has any health problems that stem cells can aid in treating, we will be more than happy to help you receive the best treatment protocol from the highest-quality stem cell centers.

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Hotline: +84-28-3636-8789

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Visit GO.CARE’s website to learn more about clinics & hospitals that offer Stem Cell Treatment.

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GO.CARE does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Gao F, Chiu SM, et al. (2016). Mesenchymal stem cells and immunomodulation: current status and future prospects. Cell Death and Disease (2016) 7, e2062.

Ullah I, Subbarao RB, Rho GJ (2015). Human mesenchymal stem cells – current trends and future prospective. Bioscience Reports 35(2). pii: e00191.

Lv FJ, Tuan RS, et al. (2014). Concise Review: The Surface Markers and Identity of Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells. Stem Cells 32(6):1408-1419.

Bianco P, Cao X, et al. (2013). The meaning, the sense and the significance: translating the science of mesenchymal stem cells into medicine. Nature Medicine 19, 35–42.

Jin HJ, Bae YK, et al. (2013). Comparative analysis of human mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow, adipose tissue, and umbilical cord blood as sources of cell therapy. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 14(9):17986-8001.

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Accessed on July 11, 2019.

Mesenchymal stem cells: The ‘other’ bone marrow stem cells. Accessed on July 11, 2019.

Mesenchymal stem cells. Accessed on July 11, 2019.

Human mesenchymal stem cells – current trends and future prospective. Accessed on July 11, 2019.

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