Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.288, No.2, 413-419, 2001
Retention of multilineage differentiation potential of mesenchymal cells during proliferation in response to FGF
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) that can differentiate to various connective tissue cells may be useful for autologous cell transplantation to defects of bone, cartilage, and tendon, if MSC can be expanded in vitro. However, a short life span of MSC and a reduction in their differentiation potential in culture have limited their clinical application. The purpose of this study is to identify a growth factor(s) involved in self-renewal of MSC and the maintenance of their multilineage differentiation potential. Fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF-2) markedly increased the growth rate and the life span of rabbit, canine, and human bone marrow MSC in monolayer cultures. This effect of FGF-2 was more prominent in low-density cultures than in high-density cultures. In addition, all MSC expanded in vitro with FGF-2, but not without FGF-2, differentiated to chondrocytes in pellet cultures. The FGF(+) MSC also retained the osteogenic and adipogenic potential throughout many mitotic divisions. These findings suggest that FGFs play a crucial role in self-renewal of MSC.