The cartilage- and bone-forming properties of the periosteum have long since been recognized. As one of the major sources of skeletal progenitor cells, the periosteum plays a crucial role not only in bone development and growth, but also during bone fracture healing. Aided by the continuous expansion of tools and techniques, we are now starting to acquire more insight into the specific role and regulation of periosteal cells. From a therapeutic point of view, the periosteum has attracted much attention as a cell source for bone tissue engineering purposes. This interest derives not only from the physiological role of the periosteum during bone repair, but is also supported by the unique properties and marked bone-forming potential of expanded periosteum-derived cells. We provide an overview of the current knowledge of periosteal cell biology, focusing on the cellular composition and molecular regulation of this remarkable tissue, as well as the application of periosteum-derived cells in regenerative medicine approaches. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled "Stem Cells and Bone".
Keywords: Bone development; Fracture repair; Periosteum; Stem cells; Tissue engineering.
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