August 8, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Would an MSC by any other name still smell as sweet?

mesenchymal stem cellsThe mesenchymal stem cell (MSC).

So important and yet so misunderstood?

People pronounce it in different ways.

People isolate the MSCs in different ways.

Each person’s MSCs are very different.

Each lab’s MSCs are different. (see picture above of MSCs showing fibroblastic morphology; source is Wikipedia)

Someone once told me that MSCs are the same as hematopoietic stem cells. ‘What the heck?’, was my response.

Some people are not sure that MSCs (at least as they are typically thought of) even exist. I remember distinctly I was at some stem cell meeting years ago and Irv Weissman was up there talking at a plenary session. Irv said, giving some members of the audience vapors, “I’m not sure MSCs even really exist!”

What should we call MSCs?

Some very smart folks are now advocating the notion that MSCs are not exactly real stem cells.

Some say that the acronym MSC should stand for “mescenchymal stromal cell” or “multipotent stromal cell”.

Some say that MSCs are the same as fibroblasts.

What’s in a name? As long ago as Shakespeare and the rose mentioned by Juliet and even earlier, people wondered about the importance of names. Maybe the name doesn’t matter?

Does the name of MSCs even matter? I think so.

Is one man’s MSC another man’s fibroblast? Are they often mixed together?

What do you think?

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