Concise Review: Insights from Normal Bone Remodeling and Stem Cell-Based Therapies for Bone Repair§


  • Author contributions: S.K.: conception and design, manuscript writing, final approval of manuscript; J.J.W.: conception and design, manuscript writing, final approval of manuscript; U.I.M.: conception and design, manuscript writing, final approval of manuscript.

  • First published online in STEM CELLS EXPRESS October 19, 2010; available online without subscription through the open access option.

  • §

    Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article.


There is growing interest in the use of mesenchymal stem cells for bone repair. As a major reason for normal bone remodeling is the removal of fatigue microcracks, advances in our understanding of this process may inform approaches to enhance fracture healing. Increasing evidence now indicates that physiological bone remodeling occurs in close proximity to blood vessels and that these vessels carry perivascular stem cells that differentiate into osteoblasts. Similarly, fracture healing is critically dependent on the ingrowth of blood vessels not only for a nutrient supply but also for the influx of osteoblasts. A number of animal and human studies have now shown the potential benefit of bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells in enhancing bone repair. However, as in other tissues, the question of whether these cells improve fracture healing directly by differentiating into osteoblasts or indirectly by secreting paracrine factors that recruit blood vessels and the accompanying perivascular stem cells remains a major unresolved issue. Moreover, CD34+ cells, which are enriched for endothelial/hematopoietic cells, have also shown efficacy in various bone repair models, at least in part due to the induction of angiogenesis and recruitment of host progenitor cells. Thus, mesenchymal and nonmesenchymal stem/progenitor cells are attractive options for bone repair. It is possible that they contribute directly to bone repair, but it is also likely that they express paracrine factors in the appropriate amounts and combinations that promote and sustain the healing process. STEM CELLS 2010;28:2124–2128