Equine Peripheral Blood-Derived Progenitors in Comparison to Bone Marrow-Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells



Fibroblast-like cells isolated from peripheral blood of human, canine, guinea pig, and rat have been demonstrated to possess the capacity to differentiate into several mesenchymal lineages. The aim of this work was to investigate the possibility of isolating pluripotent precursor cells from equine peripheral blood and compare them with equine bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Human mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were used as a control for cell multipotency assessment. Venous blood (n = 33) and bone marrow (n = 5) were obtained from adult horses. Mononuclear cells were obtained by Ficoll gradient centrifugation and cultured in monolayer, and adherent fibroblast-like cells were tested for their differentiation potential. Chondrogenic differentiation was performed in serum-free medium in pellet cultures as a three-dimensional model, whereas osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation were induced in monolayer culture. Evidence for differentiation was made via biochemical, histological, and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction evaluations. Fibroblast-like cells were observed on day 10 in 12 out of 33 samples and were allowed to proliferate until confluence. Equine peripheral blood-derived cells had osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation capacities comparable to cells derived from bone marrow. Both cell types showed a limited capacity to produce lipid droplets compared to human MSCs. This result may be due to the assay conditions, which are established for human MSCs from bone marrow and may not be optimal for equine progenitor cells. Bone marrow-derived equine and human MSCs could be induced to develop cartilage, whereas equine peripheral blood progenitors did not show any capacity to produce cartilage at the histological level. In conclusion, equine peripheral blood-derived fibroblast-like cells can differentiate into distinct mesenchymal lineages but have less multipotency than bone marrow-derived MSCs under the conditions used in this study.