October 29, 2003
Artery Stem Cells Can Turn Into Several Cell Types

Adult artery wall calcifying vascular cells (CVC) can be converted into bone, cartilage, marrow stromal and muscle cells.

"This is the first study to show that cells in the artery wall have the potential to develop into a number of other cell types," said Dr. Linda Demer, principal investigator, Guthman Professor of Medicine and Physiology, and vice chair for cardiovascular and vascular medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

UCLA researchers also report that the artery wall cells, called calcifying vascular cells (CVC), are the only cells other than actual bone marrow stromal cells that support survival of immature (developing) blood cells. This finding may have future applications in reconstitution of bone marrow after cancer treatment.

UCLA researchers cultured bovine CVC artery wall cells in the lab to see if the cells would turn into bone, fat, cartilage, marrow and muscle cells. They checked for expression of proteins and tissue matrix characteristic of each cell type.

"We wanted to see if CVC cells would become specific cell types that actually produce their own characteristic matrix (mortar-like) substance. For example, if the cell actually produced bone mineral, it would indicate that the cell had taken on a bone identity," said first author Yin Tintut, Division of Cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Researchers found that CVC cells had the potential to become several cell types, including bone, cartilage, marrow stromal and muscle cells, but not adipogenic, or fat, cells. Demer suggests this indicates that the CVC cells may not have the entire range of conventional stem cells. However, this may be especially useful in cases where one would not want the stem cell turning into a fat cell such as in trying to regenerate cartilage.

The next step involves "assessing CVC cells' potential to follow other lineages and also testing human cells," Demer said.

The ability to convert into muscle cells is notable because of the need for therapies to repair damaged heart muscle. It would be interesting to know whether these scientists tried to convert the cells to any internal organ cell types.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 October 29 01:01 AM  Biotech Organ Replacement


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