Why is stem cell plasticity so important for arthritis treatment?

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Why is stem cell plasticity so important for arthritis treatment?



The blood contains cells with many forms and functions. The ultimate source of these cells is called the hematopoetic stem cell or HSC for short. One feature of an HSC is self- renewal, the ability to divide and still remain a stem cell. HSCs can also differentiate into more mature cells and this transformation is driven by cytokines (protein messengers) and growth factors. The best known source for HSCs is bone marrow. Along with HSCs in the marrow are other stem cells, the mesenchymal stem cells or MSCs. Multiple experiments have shown that HSCs are very plastic, meaning they can be coaxed into helping with the regeneration and repair of non-blood tissue. This has led to the idea that “adult” HSCs and MSCs, if placed in the proper environment can serve as a “repair shop” for connective tissues such as cartilage, muscle, and tendon, ligament, and bone. This property of plasticity makes stem cell repair and treatment of arthritis in the shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, ankle, hand, and other regions possible.

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