New insights into the morphogenic role of stromal cells and their relevance for regenerative medicine. lessons from the heart
Version of Record online: 18 FEB 2014
© 2014 The Authors. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd and Foundation for Cellular and Molecular Medicine.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine
Volume 18, Issue 3, pages 363–370, March 2014
How to Cite
Bani, D. and Nistri, S. (2014), New insights into the morphogenic role of stromal cells and their relevance for regenerative medicine. lessons from the heart. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, 18: 363–370. doi: 10.1111/jcmm.12247
- Issue online: 27 FEB 2014
- Version of Record online: 18 FEB 2014
- Manuscript Accepted: 14 JAN 2014
- Manuscript Received: 26 NOV 2013
- University of Florence
- stromal cells;
- extracellular matrix;
The term stromal cells is referred to cells of direct or indirect (hematopoietic) mesenchymal origin, and encompasses different cell populations residing in the connective tissue, which share the ability to produce the macromolecular components of the extracellular matrix and to organize them in the correct spatial assembly. In physiological conditions, stromal cells are provided with the unique ability to shape a proper three-dimensional scaffold and stimulate the growth and differentiation of parenchymal precursors to give rise to tissues and organs. Thus, stromal cells have an essential function in the regulation of organ morphogenesis and regeneration. In pathological conditions, under the influence of local pro-inflammatory mediators, stromal cells can be prompted to differentiate into myofibroblasts, which rather express a fibrogenic phenotype required for prompt deposition of reparatory scar tissue. Indeed, scarring may be interpreted as an emergency healing response to injury typical of evolved animals, like mammals, conceivably directed to preserve survival at the expense of function. However, under appropriate conditions, the original ability of stromal cells to orchestrate organ regeneration, which is typical of some lower vertebrates and mammalian embryos, can be resumed. These concepts underline the importance of expanding the knowledge on the biological properties of stromal cells and their role as key regulators of the three-dimensional architecture of the organs in view of the refinement of the therapeutic protocols of regenerative medicine.