Dual origin of mesenchymal stem cells contributing to organ growth and repair

Jifan Feng, Andrea Mantesso, Cosimo De Bari, Akiko Nishiyama, Paul T Sharpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

337 Citations (Scopus)


In many adult tissues, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are closely associated with perivascular niches and coexpress many markers in common with pericytes. The ability of pericytes to act as MSCs, however, remains controversial. By using genetic lineage tracing, we show that some pericytes differentiate into specialized tooth mesenchyme-derived cells--odontoblasts--during tooth growth and in response to damage in vivo. As the pericyte-derived mesenchymal cell contribution to odontoblast differentiation does not account for all cell differentiation, we identify an additional source of cells with MSC-like properties that are stimulated to migrate toward areas of tissue damage and differentiate into odontoblasts. Thus, although pericytes are capable of acting as a source of MSCs and differentiating into cells of mesenchymal origin, they do so alongside other MSCs of a nonpericyte origin. This study identifies a dual origin of MSCs in a single tissue and suggests that the pericyte contribution to MSC-derived mesenchymal cells in any given tissue is variable and possibly dependent on the extent of the vascularity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6503-6508
Number of pages6
Issue number16
Early online date4 Apr 2011
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2011


  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Odontoblasts
  • Pericytes
  • Regeneration
  • Tooth


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