Working with mice, a team of researchers has pinpointed the location of bone generating stem cells in the spine, at the ends of shins, and in other bones. The team also has identified factors that control the stem cells' growth. The research was conducted at the National Institutes of Health and other institutions.
"Identifying the location of bone stem cells and some of the genetic triggers that control their growth is an important step forward," said Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D., acting director of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the NIH institute where much of the research took place. "Now, researchers can explore ways to harness these cells so that ultimately they might be used to repair damaged or malformed bone. Also, studies of this stem cell population could yield insight into the formation of bone tumors."
Researchers have long known that stem cells from bone marrow give rise to bone cells and to red and white blood cells. The current study is the first to identify the location of bone stem cells in the adult mouse skeleton. The researchers refer to the newly identified cells as bone stromal cells. "Stroma" is a term used to describe a supportive or connective structure in biological tissue. The term distinguishes the cells from hematopoietic stem cells, which give rise to blood cells, and which are found in bone marrow.
General information about stem cells is available on the NIH Web site. (http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/basics/basics1.asp)
The findings appear online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study's first author was NICHD predoctoral fellow Kit Man Tsang, a graduate student of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who is completing her doctoral thesis as part of an NICHD graduate partnership program. Tsang's thesis advisor and the senior author of the study
|Contact: Robert Bock|
NIH/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development