Reasons for performing the study: Stem cell therapies are used routinely in equine practice. Most published reports characterise stem cells derived from younger horses; however, middle-aged horses are often in athletic performance, and experience degenerative medical conditions. Thus, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) from this group should be investigated.
Objective: To describe differences in in vitro adherence, proliferation and potential for differentiation of equine bone marrow-derived MSCs (equine BMMSCs) harvested from middle-aged (10-13 years old) female donors.
Methods Equine BMMSCs from 6 horses were cultured in vitro and evaluated for viability, proliferation, osteogenesis, chondrogenesis, adipogenesis, cluster-of-differentiation markers and gene expression.
Results: Equine BMMSCs from all 6 donors demonstrated fibroblastic, cellular morphology, adherence to plastic and expression of cluster-of-differentiation markers. They varied in their rate of proliferation and trilineage differentiation. The equine BMMSCs of one of 6 donors demonstrated a higher rate of proliferation, enhanced ability for cell passaging and a more robust in vitro differentiation. Comparatively, equine BMMSCs from 2 donors demonstrated a lower rate of proliferation and lack of osteogenic and chondrogenic differentiation.
Conclusion: The results of this study confirm that donor-to-donor variation in equine BMMSCs exists and this variation can be documented using in vitro assays. Subjective assessment suggests that the rate of proliferation tends to correlate with differentiation potential.