What Is In Your Bone Marrow that Can Help Orthopedic Injuries?

by Chris Centeno, MD /

What is in your bone marrow? What types of stem cells are in your bone marrow? Are there other cells? Why do we like it better than fat for helping patients heal orthopedic injuries? The quick presentation above will show you.

The bone marrow is a dynamic environment that contains stem cells and other cells. On the orthopedic tissue repair front, it frequently sends cells from there into the circulation to help repair injuries. However, for many orthopedic injuries, the area to be helped has a poor blood supply, hence harvesting these cells and placing them at the spot in need of healing is often the best way to facilitate repair.

First on the list of stem cells in bone marrow are Mesenchymal (MSCs). These are multi-tasking cells that can both orchestrate a repair response as well as become needed cartilage, bone, ligament, or tendon cells. Next up are hematopoietic stem cells that can both help bring in new blood supply as well as assist in muscle and nerve repair. Endothelial progenitor cells are also here, which are expert at helping damaged blood vessels. While many practitioners add in platelets to bone marrow stem cells, there are already platelets in the mix. These can help release growth factors critical to healing. Pericytes (cells that live around blood vessels) are also found in the bone marrow. These can both help repair damaged blood vessels and can also turn into extra MSCs as needed. The newly discovered osteochondroreticular cells are found in the ends of long bones and can help repair damaged cartilage and bone. Macrophages are also present and can clean up the mess of damaged tissue left behind by injury.

The upshot? There are many more cells in bone marrow than just MSCs that are specific to helping orthopedic injuries heal, which is why we like it over fat stem cells. Enjoy the presentation above!

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Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

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.
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