What Are Mesenchymal Stem Cells

Mesenchymal stem cells are multipotent stem cells that have the capability of differentiating into different types of cell types which varies from chondrocytes, osteocytes, myocytes, and adipocytes to beta-pancreatic islets cells. Mesenchymal stem cells are very rarely found in the bone marrow. They have the ability to retain their growth and multilineage potential even though they have expanded manifold in the culture. The umbilical cord of humans which is detached after the birth of the baby is a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells and is being readily processed now days to get these stem cells. Many companies give the service of collecting and preserving your babies cord and cord blood stem cells for future use.


The mesenchymal stem cells have a small body with a few cell processes being long and thin. It has a large round nucleus and a prominent nucleolus and the chromatin fibers are dispersed in the nucleus which gives it a very transparent look. The mesencymal stem cells have shown the property of migration when transplanted systematically into the body to the site of injury in animals. However, what imparts these cells this property is still unclear. The mesenchyme which is ideally embryonic connective tissue never ever differentiates into hematopoietic cells.


The mesenchymal stem cells are found in body tissues and organs in a very low amount. However, the youngest and the most primitive form of mesenchymal stem cells are those derived from the cord tissue, Wharton jelly and the cord blood tissue. However, the Wharton jelly is a rich source of mesenchymal stem cells the cord blood has more of hematopoietic stem cells. The cord tissue is generally discarded after the birth of the baby and hence there is no harm in its collection. Since, these are more primitive form, they are considered better than the adult stem cells which are obtained in the later part of the life.

Other sources for mesenchymal stem cells include, the developing tooth bud of the mandibular third molar, Adipose tissue. The adipose tissue is said to have 500 times more mesenchymal stem cells in one gram of fat than 1 gram of aspirated bone marrow and hence are being experimented for use in the treatment of many diseases. Since these cells are found in low levels in the body they need to be cultured in vitro for its use in therapy of a disease.The mesenchymal cells after being harvested from there source does not give the same efficiency and capability of dividing. This reduction in the activity is a drawback, as it lowers the chances of cell culture in the laboratory.