Multipotential bone marrow stromal cells have the ability to differentiate along multiple connective tissue lineages including cartilage. In this study, we developed an efficient and reproducible procedure for the isolation of stromal cells from bone marrow aspirates of normal human donors based on the expression of endoglin, a type III receptor of the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) receptor family. We demonstrate that these cells have the ability of multiple lineage differentiation. Stromal cells represented 2-3% of the total mononuclear cells of the marrow. The cells displayed a fibroblastic colony formation in monolayer culture and maintained similar morphology with passage. Expression of cell surface molecules by flow cytometry displayed a stable phenotype with culture expansion. When cocultured with hematopoietic CD34(+) progenitor cells, stromal cells were able to maintain their ability to support hematopoiesis in vitro. Culture expanded stromal cells were placed in a 3-dimensional matrix of alginate beads and cultured in serum-free media in the presence of TGFbeta-3 for chondrogenic lineage progression. Increased expression of type II collagen messenger RNA was observed in the TGFbeta3 treated cultures. Immunohistochemistry performed on sections of alginate beads detected the presence of type II collagen protein. This isolation procedure for stromal cells and the establishment of the alginate culture system for chondrogenic progression will contribute to the understanding of chondrogenesis and cartilage repair.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.