Researchers have identified a new source of equine stem cells, potentially removing the need to harvest them surgically.
Mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent cells that can differentiate into a variety of cell types, including bone, cartilage, muscle and fat. They have been used clinically in horses for about 15 years to aid in healing, particularly in the treatment of several orthopedic conditions.
MSCs are most commonly harvested from bone marrow or fat tissue, requiring the use of surgical procedures.
By contrast, the uterus can be accessed nonsurgically, which the research team thought may provide a more readily available cell source.
While the human endometrium − that’s the mucous membrane that lines the inside of the womb − is known to harbor mesenchymal precursor cells, MSCs have not been identified in the equine endometrium, the study team noted.
Xavier Donadeu and his colleagues, writing in the journal Stem Cells Research & Therapy, reported on the successful isolation, culture, and characterization of MSCs from the equine endometrium.
For comparison, MSCs were also harvested from bone marrow and both were tested for surface markers indicatives of MSCs. The study team reported that typical markers of MSCs were found in the cells derived from both sources.
The MSCs from both sources grew clonally and both differentiated into fat, bone and cartilage lines in the laboratory setting, although the researchers said the ability of the endometrial MSCs to generate cartilage was lower than that of bone-marrow MSCs.
The endometrial MSCs had a distinct ability to undergo smooth muscle differentiation, they reported.
The authors concluded: “We have demonstrated for the first time the presence of cells in equine endometrium that fulfill the definition of MSCs.
“The equine endometrium may provide an alternative, easily accessible source of MSCs, not only for therapeutic regeneration of the uterus, but also for other tissues where MSCs from other sources are currently being used therapeutically.”
They continued: “Although not addressed in this study, the relative abundance and phenotype of MSCs in the equine endometrium may vary with the reproductive stage, a possibility that should be investigated in the future.”
The study team comprised Donadeu, Elisabeth Rink, Karin Amilon, Cristina Esteves, Hilari French, Elaine Watson, and Christine Aurich. The research was centered at the University of Edinburgh, in Scotland.
Isolation and characterization of equine endometrial mesenchymal stromal cells
B. Elisabeth Rink, Karin R. Amilon, Cristina L. Esteves, Hilari M. French, Elaine Watson, Christine Aurich and F. Xavier Donadeu.
Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2017 8:166 DOI: 10.1186/s13287-017-0616-