In search of the skeletal stem cell: isolation and separation strategies at the macro/micro scale for skeletal regeneration†
Skeletal stem cells (SSCs) show great capacity for bone and cartilage repair however, current in vitro cultures are heterogeneous displaying a hierarchy of differentiation potential. SSCs represent the diminutive true multipotent stem cell fraction of bone marrow mononuclear cell (BMMNC) populations. Endeavours to isolate SSCs have generated a multitude of separation methodologies. SSCs were first identified and isolated by their ability to adhere to culture plastic. Once isolated, further separation is achieved via culture in selective or conditioned media (CM). Indeed, preferential SSC growth has been demonstrated through selective in vitro culture conditions. Other approaches have utilised cell morphology (size and shape) as selection criteria. Studies have also targeted SSCs based on their preferential adhesion to specified compounds, individually or in combination, on both macro and microscale platforms. Nevertheless, most of these methods which represent macroscale function with relatively high throughput, yield insufficient purity. Consequently, research has sought to downsize isolation methodologies to the microscale for single cell analysis. The central approach is identification of the requisite cell populations of SSC-specific surface markers that can be targeted for isolation by either positive or negative selection. SELEX and phage display technology provide apt means to sift through substantial numbers of candidate markers. In contrast, single cell analysis is the paramount advantage of microfluidics, a relatively new field for cell biology. Here cells can be separated under continuous or discontinuous flow according to intrinsic phenotypic and physicochemical properties. The combination of macroscale quantity with microscale specificity to generate robust high-throughput (HT) technology for pure SSC sorting, isolation and enrichment offers significant implications therein for skeletal regenerative strategies as a consequence of lab on chip derived methodology.
- This article is part of the themed collection: 10th Anniversary Issue: UK