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Stem Cell Research

Stem Cells Potentially Repairing Joint Cartilage

1 week, 2 days ago

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Posted on Sep 14, 2018, 2 a.m.

Researchers have identified and characterized unique cell populations that form the superficial zone of human joint cartilage for the first time, the zone has the most critical role in cushioning joints and is often partially or completely lost in arthritis, as published in Nature Communications.

Researchers offer new insights on how gene activity drives development of cartilage; providing a unique molecular atlas of human skeletal development and defining a strategy for joint cartilage repair.

In a series of studies developing human cartilage cells gene activity was compared with several other cell types. First cartilage cells were compared to 4 other types of developing human cells: precursors to bone, muscle, tendon, and ligaments. As cartilage matured genes specific to cartilage became increasingly active while genes related to other cells types became repressed. Then these developing human cartilage cells were compared to equivalent cells from mice to find many broad similarities in gene activity.

Comparison of ordinary human cartilage cells and stem cell derived human cartilage cells were also carried out in detail taking into account for genetics, genetic regulation and function. The team demonstrated stem cell derived cartilage does not fully develop in petri dishes, rather it retains genetic hallmarks typical of fetal cartilage; when transplanted stem cell derived human cartilage at a particular stage of development into an arthritic rat the cartilage lost fetal hallmarks and fully matured regenerating critical superficial zone.

Materials provided by University of Southern California.

Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

Gabriel B. Ferguson, Ben Van Handel, Maxwell Bay, Petko Fiziev, Tonis Org, Siyoung Lee, Ruzanna Shkhyan, Nicholas W. Banks, Mila Scheinberg, Ling Wu, Biagio Saitta, Joseph Elphingstone, A. Noelle Larson, Scott M. Riester, April D. Pyle, Nicholas M. Bernthal, Hanna KA Mikkola, Jason Ernst, Andre J. van Wijnen, Michael Bonaguidi, Denis Evseenko. Mapping molecular landmarks of human skeletal ontogeny and pluripotent stem cell-derived articular chondrocytes. Nature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-05573-y

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