With the identification of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) as pericytes, the details of bone formation, regeneration, and repair take on new meaning. Growth factors and other signaling molecules together with MSCs play important roles in these bone fabrication processes. However, the interaction of these cellular healing components is not completely understood. The formation of new vasculature is critical to regeneration and repair as both the driver and orientor of new bone formation. In this context, MSCs are proposed to be largely derived from pericytes associated with the vasculature. A comprehensive perspective is presented in which signaling molecules such as PDGF take on new significance in the vasculature-pericyte-MSC-osteoblast dynamics. Current data suggest that PDGF could function as a central connector between the cellular components and contributors of the osteoblast differentiation program. The inference is that PDGF could function at sites of injury to mobilize the pericytes from their abluminal location, stimulate mitotic expansion of these cells and help organize them. In this way, PDGF both contributes to the osteogenic lineage and helps to stabilize newly forming vessels that act to drive the multistep, multicomponent cascade of new bone formation. This thesis explains how PDGF functions as a powerful therapeutic agent for bone formation and repair.
Copyright © 2011 Orthopaedic Research Society.