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?


    • Irv made a bold statement about MSCs at a meeting I attended in person. I have not had the pleasure of hearing Arnold Caplan speak on this topic. But if you have a published quote from Caplan that you think would be appropriate, post it here in the comments with a link and if I agree with you I will happily add it to my blog post with my thanks to you!

      • First of all, since you are the one writing the article on MSCs, I think you should be the one seeking out the opinion Caplan and perhaps a quote from him, not me. Secondly, I don’t think it’s fair that you can quote things “you heard” but I must use only published quotes, not comments I’ve heard from Caplan during his talks. So how about interviewing Caplan about the therapeutic potential of MSCs and current MSC-based treatments being offered in the US and abroad?

        • FYI, I have an interview arranged with Caplan for the blog and I have to say “thank you” as your comment nudged me to contact him to ask. Should be quite interesting.

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