In vivo phenotypic characterisation of nucleoside label-retaining cells in mouse periosteum

Haseen Mahbub Cherry, Anke Jozefien Roelofs, Tobias Kurth, Cosimo De Bari

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Periosteum is known to contain cells that, after isolation and culture-expansion, display properties of mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSCs). However, the equivalent cells have not been identified in situ mainly due to the lack of specific markers. Postnatally, stem cells are slow-cycling, long-term nucleoside-label-retaining cells. This study aimed to identify and characterise label-retaining cells in mouse periosteum in vivo. Mice received iodo-deoxy-uridine (IdU) via the drinking water for 30 days, followed by a 40-day washout period. IdU+ cells were identified by immunostaining in conjunction with MSC and lineage markers. IdU-labelled cells were detected throughout the periosteum with no apparent focal concentration, and were negative for the endothelial marker von Willebrand factor and the pan-haematopoietic marker CD45. Subsets of IdU+ cells were positive for the mesenchymal/stromal markers vimentin and cadherin-11. IdU+ cells expressed stem cell antigen-1, CD44, CD73, CD105, platelet-derived growth factor receptor-α and p75, thereby displaying an MSC-like phonotype. Co-localisation was not detectable between IdU and the pericyte markers CD146, alpha smooth muscle actin or NG2, nor did IdU co-localise with β-galactosidase in a transgenic mouse expressing this reporter gene in pericytes and smooth muscle cells. Subsets of IdU+ cells expressed the osteoblast-lineage markers Runx2 and osteocalcin. The IdU+ cells expressing osteocalcin were lining the bone and were negative for the MSC marker p75. In conclusion, mouse periosteum contains nucleoside-label-retaining cells with a phenotype compatible with MSCs that are distinct from pericytes and osteoblasts. Future studies characterising the MSC niche in vivo could reveal novel therapeutic targets for promoting bone regeneration/repair.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-195
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Cells & Materials
Publication statusPublished - 11 Mar 2014


  • Mesenchymal stem/stromal cell
  • osteoprogenitor
  • periosteum
  • label-retaining
  • osteoblast
  • pericyte


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