Original article from STEM CELLS
Recent studies have demonstrated that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have the ability to differentiate into various kinds of cell types, including neuron-like cells in culture (Woodbury et al, Qian and Saltzman, Levy et al and Rismanchi et al) which has been further verified by transplantation experiments in various animal models of human disease. However, these studies have been hampered by reported low levels of cell persistence, neuronal differentiation in vivo and massive death of transplanted cells limiting their overall effectiveness and clinical use. Dedifferentiation is a process by which differentiated cells are reverted to an earlier, more primitive phenotype which confers an extended differentiation potential (Odelberg, Kollhoff and Keating) and previous studies by the authors of the study discussed herein demonstrated that by withdrawal of extrinsic stimulation, MSC-derived neurons are able to revert back to MSC morphologically (Woodbury, Reynold and Black and Li et al), but whether these dedifferentiated MSCs (DeMSCs) were similar to MSCs was unknown. This point is now addressed in the December issue of Stem Cells in a study (Liu et al) from the laboratories of Hsiao Chang Chan (Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, Hong Kong) and Tingyu Li (Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, China).