Bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are adult stem cells that reside within the bone marrow compartment. In the traditional developmental model, adult stem cells are able to differentiate only to the tissue in which they reside. Recent data have challenged the committed fate of the adult stem cells, presenting evidence for their multilineage differentiation potential. In addition, potential therapeutic benefits of MSC administration have been the main concern of much research, including clinical trials. These studies promote adult stem cell therapy by shedding some light on the therapeutic potential of MSC and their mechanism of action. Many doubts have found their way into MSC research. They question MSC potency and beneficial contribution. However, these obstacles should not arrest but set a challenge to MSC researchers to examine their achievements under a magnifying glass. Therapeutic benefits of MSC exogenous delivery do not run counter to its possible participation in endogenous repair. Several reports imply MSC involvement in physiological repair but no explicit data support this hypothesis. This review tries to put MSC research into perspective. Possible therapeutic applications of MSC therapy for damaged tissue replacement, tissue engineering and the underlying repair mechanisms will be discussed. In addition, reported data about MSC possible involvement in physiological multiple tissue repair, their homing to injury and site-specific differentiation will be presented.
Keywords: mesenchymal stem cells, homing, differentiation, tissue regeneration, stem cell therapy
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