We’ve known for some time that bone marrow stem cells are better than fat stem cells at repairing orthopedic tissues like bone and cartilage. Now a new study might explain why this is the case. Turns out there’s more stem cells in bone marrow than anyone ever thought.
Fat has a healthy number of stem cells and plastic surgeons are good at hoovering it out of the enlarging American waistline. In fact, fat stem cell proponents often claim that since there are more mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) in fat, than fat must be better for what ails you than bone marrow. Despite this, we have many studies that show that bone marrow stem cells outperform fat stem cells in repairing orthopedic tissues like cartilage and bone.
Turns out there may be many more stem cells in bone marrow than first thought. The traditional source of it’s regenerative capabilities was thought to be MSCs. Then researchers began talking about smaller stem cell types in bone marrow like VSELs or MUSE cells. Our group then isolated another source with our proprietary two fraction isolation. Now a research group has isolated yet another type of stem cell in bone marrow that they call osteochondroreticular (OCR) stem cells.
The new study used a well known cell marker known as Gremlin 1 that’s involved in limb development. With it, the scientists identified a population of cells in the bone marrow that give rise to cartilage, bone, and other cells. While scientists for decades have been growing cartilage and bone from MSCs, the existence of this new cell source that also can repair these tissues explains much.
The upshot? There are a bunch more stem cells in bone marrow than was first thought. In particular, the fact that bone marrow has osteochondroreticular (OCR) stem cells would help explain why it does such a good job at repairing orthopedic tissues when compared to the stem cells isolated from fat, which lacks these same stem cells.