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Abstract

Adult marrow contains mesenchymal progenitor cells (MPCs) that have multiple differentiation potentials. A conditionally immortalized MPC clone, BMC9, has been identified that exhibits four mesenchymal cell phenotypes: chondrocyte, adipocyte, stromal (support osteoclast formation), and osteoblast. The BMC9 clone, control brain fibroblasts and another marrow-derived clone, BMC10, were isolated from a transgenic mouse (H-2Kb-tsA58) containing a gene for conditional immortality. To test for chondrogenic potential, cells were cultured in defined medium containing 10 ng/ml transforming growth factor β and 10−7 M dexamethasone in 15-ml polypropylene tubes (“aggregate cultures”). Adipogenic potential was quantitated by flow cytometry of Nile Red–stained cells cultured for 1 and 2 weeks in medium containing isobutyl methylxanthine, indomethacin, insulin, and dexamethasone. Support of osteoclast formation was measured by quantitating multinucleated tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase–positive cells in spleen cell cocultures of test clones (immortomouse clones and positive control ST2 cells) cultured in the presence of 10−7 M vitamin D3 and 150 mM ascorbate-2-phosphate. In vivo osteogenic potential was assayed by histologic examination of bone formation in subcutaneous implants, into athymic mouse hosts, of a composite of cells combined with porous calcium phosphate ceramics. The bone marrow–derived clone BMC9 has the potential to express each of the four mesenchymal characteristics tested, while brain fibroblasts, tested under identical conditions, did not exhibit any of these four mesenchymal characteristics. BMC10 cells exhibited osteogenic and chondrogenic phenotypes, but showed only minimal expression of adipocytic or osteoclast-supportive phenotypes. Clone BMC9 is, minimally, a quadripotential MPC isolated from the marrow of an adult mouse that can differentiate into cartilage and adipose, support osteoclast formation, and form bone. The BMC9 clone is an example of an adult-derived multipotential progenitor cell that is situated early in the mesenchymal lineage.