Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), also known as marrow stromal cells, comprise of a rare population of multipotent progenitor cells that possess high self-renewal ability and great potential to differentiate into tissues of mesenchymal lineages including bone, adipose, cartilage, tendon, skeletal muscle (Friedenstein et al. 1974a; Pittenger et al. 1999; Reyes et al. 2001). In fact, MSC have been shown to differentiate into tissue of non-mesenchymal lineages such as cardiac muscle (Arminan et al. 2008), pancreatic islet cell (Kogler et al. 2004), hepatocyte (Kazemnejad et al. 2009), and neural cell (Kopen et al. 1999; Kennea et al. 2009). Experimental and clinical data demonstrated that MSC support haematopoiesis (Muguruma et al. 2006) and enhance the engraftment of haematopoietic stem cell after co-tranplantation with MSC (Gotherstrom et al. 2005; Lazarus et al. 2005); exert immunomodulatory activity (Bartholomew et al. 2002; Di Nicola et al. 2002; Ramasamy et al. 2008) and reduce the consequences of graft versus host disease (Gotherstrom et al. 2005); ease for genetic modification (Chan et al. 2005). These unique characteristics of MSC hold great potential to be the next frontier candidate of regenerative medicine, immunotherapy and gene therapy.
To date, bone marrow (BM) is the most common source of MSC. Indeed, BM contributes to most of the research and development on MSC biology. Most of works concerning MSC are exclusively based on adult bone marrow MSC (BM-MSC). However, BM aspiration is a very invasive and painful procedure which is at risk for infection, excessive bleeding, and other complications. Although the successful rate of stem cell retrieval and their expansion are high in adult bone marrow sample, certain conditions can limit their accessibility. For instance, in some clinical cases such as bone marrow failure, aplastic anaemia, leukaemia, post-myeloblative irradiation or chemotherapy, patients often encounter complication of inadequate cellular fractions in their bone marrow aspiration. For these patients, the only option for alternative source of MSC will be a second party donor. Most of time, there are difficulties to allocate the right donor. Moreover, the number and differentiation capacity of MSC are decreased significantly with aging (Makhluf et al. 2000; Mueller and Glowacki 2001; Stenderup et al. 2003). Altogether, these necessitate a need to search for an ‘off the shelf’ alternative source of MSC for research and therapeutic use.
In line with this, several groups had generated MSC from various tissues such as endometrium, appendix, synovium, thymus,...