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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2015

Mesenchymal stem cells in rabbit meniscus and bone marrow exhibit a similar feature but a heterogeneous multi-differentiation potential: superiority of meniscus as a cell source for meniscus repair

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2015
Zhe Ding, He Huang
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12891-015-0511-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Zhe Ding and He Huang contributed equally to this work.

Competing interests

We all authors were fully involved in this study. Each author certifies that he or she has no commercial associations (eg, consultancies, stock ownership, equity interest, patient/licensing arrangements, etc.) that might pose a conflict of interest in connection with this article. We authors vow and declare that no potential competing interest exist among us.

Authors’ contributions

H H: (corresponding author) conceived of the study, and participated in its design and coordination and helped to draft the manuscript. Z D: (first author) carried out all fields of the experiment, participated in the design of the study and drafted the manuscript. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.



The restoration of damaged meniscus has always been a challenge due to its limited healing capacity. Recently, bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) provide a promising alternative to repair meniscal defects. However, BMSCs are not ideal chondroprogenitor cells for meniscus repair because they have a high propensity for cartilage hypertrophy and bone formation. Our hypothesis is that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) reside in meniscus maintain specific traits distinct from others which may be more conducive to meniscus regeneration.


MSCs were isolated from bone marrow and menisci of the rabbits. The similarities and differences between BMSCs and MMSCs were investigated in vitro by a cell culture model, ex vivo by a rabbit meniscus defect model and in vivo by a nude rat implantation model using histochemistry, immunocytochemistry, qRT-PCR and western blotting.


Our data showed that two types of MSCs have universal stem cell characteristics including clonogenicity, multi-potency and self-renewal capacity. They both express stem cell markers including SSEA-4, Nanog, nucleostemin, strol-1, CD44 and CD90.
However, MMSCs differed from BMSCs. MMSC colonies were much smaller and grew more slowly than BMSC colonies. Moreover, fewer MMSCs expressed CD34 than BMSCs. Finally, MMSCs always appeared a pronounced tendency to chondrogenic differentiation while BMSCs exhibited significantly greater osteogenic potential, whatever in vitro and in vivo.


This study shows the similarities and differences between MMSCs and BMSCs for the first time. MMSCs are a promising source of mesenchymal stem cells in repairing meniscus defect.
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