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How to grow muscle cells in a dish

November 10, 2006
Smooth muscle cells (SMCs) are a crucial cellular component of many parts of the body, including blood vessels, the intestines, and the lungs. SMCs in the blood vessels are involved in several causes of heart disease and understanding how SMCs are generated is important for designing therapies for such diseases. It is also knowledge that could be used to engineer tissues in the laboratory, for example new blood vessels for use in bypass surgery.

In a study that appears online on November 9, in advance of publication in the December print issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Catherine Verfaille and colleagues at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, show that SMCs can be generated from multipotent adult progenitor cells (MAPCs) isolated from the bone marrow of rats, mice, pigs, and humans. These cells only generated SMCs if exposed to the soluble factor TGF-beta or TGF-beta and another soluble factor PDGFB. SMC development from MAPCs occurred along the normal pathway of SMC development and the cells that were generated had all the functions of normal SMCs. This study therefore identifies a model system for studying the effects of potential therapeutics on SMC development and SMCs. It also describes a potential source of SMCs for engineering tissues.

Journal of Clinical Investigation

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