“…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.” Mesenchymal stem cells use signals to trigger the body’s own stem cells to heal wounds and this discovery could be used to develop treatments based on controlling these signals.
Mesenchymal (MSC) stem cells send out “homing signals” that recruit other stem cells and mobilize them to heal wounds, researchers at the at 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 , 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.