Mesenchymal Stem Cells: Stem cells are the basic building blocks of tissues and organs in the body. It is important to note that there is no single stem cell that gives rise to them but in fact a variety of them coming from different locations in the body and formed at different time periods.

One of the most common type of stem cells is the mesenchymal stem cells (aka MSCs). But what exactly is it? Lets take a closer look.

By definition, mesenchymal stem cells are multi-potent cells that are able to differentiate and mature into different types of cells. Mesenchymal cells are characterized by having long and thin bodies and very prominent nucleus.

In terms of size, they are relatively smaller than fibrocytes and are quite difficult to observe in histological sections. And overall morphologically speaking, they appear to have no difference from fibroblasts.

A group of mesenchymal stem cells is called a mesenchyme and together, they form the undifferentiated filling of the embryo. Mesenchymal stem cells (or tissue) have a wide distribution in the body.

Like most stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells are capable of self-renewal and differentiation.

Despite its size, the mesenchymal stem cell play a lot of significant roles within an organism. The following are just some of them.Functions of Mesenchymal Stem Cells (Image Source:

1.Suppression of immune cells activation

Aside from being the progenitor of most cells in the body, mesenchymal cells also control the activities of immune cells (i.e. T-lymphocytes, B-lymphocytes, macrophages, mast cells, and neutrophils) during an organ transplant. This is important because it prevents further inflammation and eventual rejection of the transplanted organ.

2. Increase the number of nerve cells

3. Reduction of Cell Death

4. Secretion of neurotrophic and angiogenic factors

Mesenchymal stem cells secrete both neurotrophic and angiogenic factors which are responsible for stabilizing the extracellular matrix (ECM).

5. Increase synaptic connections

When transplanted into the brain, mesenchymal stem cells promote the reduction of free radical levels and enhance the synaptic connections of damaged neurons. In addition to that, they also increase the number of astrocytes (star-shaped cells associated with the formation of functional synapses). As a result, impulses (messages) are being passed on at a faster speed, hence, reactions are also immediate.

6. Increase the myelination of axons

Myelin sheath is the insulating layer that covers the axons of nerve cells. By further enhancing the myelination of axons, mesenchymal cells (similar with above) further increase the speed at which impulses are passed along.

7. Increase the number of blood vessels and astrocytes in the brain

According to a recent study published in the World Journal of Stem Cells, mesenchymal cells are also able to replace and repair any damaged blood vessel in the cerebrum part of the brain. Hence, mesenchymal cells are being viewed as potential therapeutic remedy for stroke patients.

Mesenchymal cells undergo mesengenic process in order to transform into different cell types such as osteocytes (bone cells), chondrocytes (cartilage cells), muscle cells, and others.The Differentiation of Mesenchymal Stem Cells into different types of cells (Image Source:

Present-day studies are now paving the way for the further applications of mesenchymal stem cells into numerous clinical measures and techniques. In addition to the natural functions of mesenchymal cells mentioned above, several commercialized products from these cells have already been approved.

Despite their promising effect on overall organism health, the knowledge about mesenchymal stem cells is still incomplete. Hence, further research is still needed to ensure the safety of patients and improve quality control.

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Mesenchymal Stem Cells | Properties, Process, Functions ...

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