A growing number of researchers are arguing that the term “mesenchymal stem cell” has broadened to the point of uselessness, and now serves to obscure significant differences in cell populations. This is a similar situation to that of the long-running discussion regarding very small embryonic-like stem cells, another term of art that probably lumps together a broad selection of quite different cell types. Since mesenchymal stem cells, whatever they might be in each individual case, are now widely used in therapy it seems a little more pressing to resolve questions of cell identity here, however. To what degree are varied results from treatments an outcome of failing to adequately categorize cell phenotypes and sources? Mesenchymal stem cell transplantation is a reliable way to reduce chronic inflammation, but any other outcome, such as some degree of tissue regeneration, is by no means assured.
Various populations of cells in the adult human body have been the subject of controversy since the early 2000s. Contradictory findings about these haphazardly termed ‘mesenchymal stem cells’, including their origins, developmental potential, biological functions and possible therapeutic uses, have prompted biologists, clinicians and scientific societies to recommend that the term
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