Does the Site of the Bone Marrow Collection Matter for Stem Cell Function?

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bone marrow stem cells

We have much respect for the vets at CSU who have been using stem cells in their horses for many years. We’ve also published with Laurie Goodrich (one of their lead researchers) on the bone forming ability of equine versus human stem cells. Laurie’s research team just produced an interesting study on the use of stem cells in equine joints and tendons, focusing on different sites where the bone marrow sample can be taken. Laurie’s paper again reiterates that for orthopedic applications, bone marrow is better as a stem cell source than fat. In addition, it discusses that taking smaller samples from multiple sites produces more stem cells than one big sample from a single site. Despite quite a few papers discussing marrow is better than fat for orthopedic treatment and that taking many small marrow samples gives you more cells, we still see medical practices using fat stem cells as a primary source in orthopedics and/or taking large bone marrow draws from a single site. The conclusion of the CSU paper was that location of the marrow draw (from the sterum or the iliac bone) didn’t seem to matter as far as results. Our procedure has always preferred the iliac crest area, but other sites likely don’t impact cell quality. However, taking a single draw from one site does matter, as it dilutes out the stem cells (which are more prevalent in the first few cc’s of the bone marrow draw). The upshot? Bone marrow stem cells are still superior to fat stem cells for orthopedic applications and taking allot of marrow aspirate from one site will reduce how many stem cells you have. All of our Regenexx network sites know these stem cell harvest rules. However, we still see that the research is largely ignored by many physicians using bedside centrifuges to spin down your bone marrow.

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Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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