Manipulating Notch Pathway may Prove Useful in Treating Bone Diseases

Scientists have pinpointed and controlled a key molecular component that will keep certain stem cells associated with arthritis and osteoporosis in an extended infancy state, according to a study published online in the journal Development.

Development

The stem cells are called mesenchymal cells and make up a small portion of the cells in bone marrow and other tissues. Delaying their development is essential for medical research into the creation of useful and necessary bone and connective tissue cells in the treatment of diseases such as arthritis or osteoporosis.

According to the lead team researcher Matthew J. Hilton, Ph.D., these stem cells have a tendency to differentiate rapidly, which hampers the researchers’ ability to manipulate them into becoming several types of tissue that can be useful to patients with certain rheumatologic conditions or broken bones that won’t heal.

The study, which was performed on mice, focused on increasing the number and delaying the development of stem cells that create bones, cartilage, muscle and fat. Researchers discovered that Notch, which influences nervous system stem cells, is critical in the development of mesenchymal stem cells and prevents them from maturing. The stem cells were shown to remain in an immature state, when the scientists activated the Notch pathway. They failed to mature into bone cells, cartilage cells or connective tissue.

The team also discovered that Notch works in mesenchymal stem cells through moleculae RBPJ-kappa. The results suggest that manipulating the Notch pathway may prove useful in expanding mesenchymal stem cell for treating diseases associated with bone and cartilage.

Scientists have pinpointed and controlled a key molecular component that will keep certain stem cells associated with arthritis and osteoporosis in an extended infancy state, according to a study published online in the journal .