• Mesenchymal stem cells;
  • Progenitor cells;
  • Pluripotent cells;
  • Muscle;
  • Fat;
  • Cartilage;
  • Bone


Previous studies have noted the presence of mesenchymal stem cells located within the connective tissue matrices of avian skeletal muscle, dermis, and heart. In these studies, clonal analysis coupled with dexamethasone treatment revealed the presence of multiple populations of stem cells composed of both lineage-committed progenitor mesenchymal stem cells and lineage-uncommitted pluripotent mesenchymal stem cells. The present study was undertaken to assess the distribution of these stem cells in the connective tissues throughout various regions of the body. Day 11 chick embryos were divided into 26 separate regions. Heart, limb skeletal muscle, and limb dermis were included as control tissues. Cells were harvested enzymatically and grown using conditions optimal for the isolation, cryopreservation, and propagation of avian mesenchymal stem cells. Cell aliquots were plated, incubated with various concentrations of dexamethasone, and examined for differentiated phenotypes. Four recurring phenotypes appeared in dexamethasone-treated stem cells: skeletal muscle myotubes, fat cells, cartilage nodules, and bone nodules. These results suggest that progenitor mesenchymal stem cells and putative pluripotent mesenchymal stem cells with the potential to form at least four tissues of mesodermal origin have a widespread distribution throughout the body, being located within the connective tissue compartments of many organs and organ systems. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.