Recent studies have shown that adult tissues contain stem/ progenitor cells capable of not only generating mature cells of their tissue of origin but also transdifferentiating themselves into other tissue cells. Murine skin-derived precursor cells, for example, have been described as unique, nonmesenchymal-like stem cells capable of mesodermal and ectodermal neurogenic differentiation. Human-derived skin precursors are less well characterized.
In this study, the isolation and characterization of adherent, mesenchymal stem cell–like cells from human scalp tissue (hSCPs) are described. hSCPs initially isolated by both medium-selection (ms-hSCPs) and single-cell (c-hSCPs) methods were cultured in medium containing epidermal growth factor and fibroblast growth factor-β. Cultured ms-hSCPs and c-hSCPs demonstrated a consistent growth rate, continuously replicated in cell culture, and displayed a stable phenotype indistinguishable from each other. Both hSCPs expressed surface antigen profile (CDw90, SH2, SH4, CD105, CD166, CD44, CD49d-e, and HLA class I) similar to that of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs). The growth kinetics, surface epitopes, and differentiation potential of c-hSCP cells were characterized and compared with BM-MSCs. In addition to differentiation along the osteogenic, chondrogenic, and adipogenic lineages, hSCPs can effectively differentiate into neuronal precursors evident by neurogenic gene expression of glial fibrillary acid protein, NCAM, neuron filament-M, and microtubule-associated protein 2 transcripts. Therefore, hSCPs may potentially be a better alternative of BM-MSCs for neural repairing, in addition to their other mesenchymal regenerative capacity. Our study suggests that hSCPs may provide an alternative adult stem cell resource that may be useful for regenerative tissue repair and autotransplantations.