Plasticity of bone marrow-derived stem cells

Stem Cells. 2004;22(4):487-500. doi: 10.1634/stemcells.22-4-487.


Stem cell plasticity refers to the ability of adult stem cells to acquire mature phenotypes that are different from their tissue of origin. Adult bone marrow cells (BMCs) include two populations of bone marrow stem cells (BMCs): hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which give rise to all mature lineages of blood, and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which can differentiate into bone, cartilage, and fat. In this article, we review the literature that lends credibility to the theory that highly plastic BMCs have a role in maintenance and repair of nonhematopoietic tissue. We discuss the possible mechanisms by which this may occur. Also reviewed is the possibility that adult BMCs can change their gene expression profile after fusion with a mature cell, which has brought into question whether this stem cell plasticity is real.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous