Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BM-MSCs) have the potential to be used for tissue engineering. Nevertheless, they exhibit a low growth rate that limits their availability. In this work we use an alternative model of MSCs from the outer ear (ear mesenchymal stem cells, E-MSCs). These cells bear the characteristics of progenitor cells because of their ability to be differentiated into the three lineages of chondrocytes, osteocytes and adipocytes. This model cell population had a threefold higher cell growth rate compared to BM-MSCs. This allowed rapid testing of the scalability in microcarrier culture using bead-to-bead transfer and also enabled their expansion in a 1-l bioreactor. The cells were able to maintain their potential for differentiation into the above three lineages. Therefore, E-MSCs appear to be an attractive model for assessing a number of bioengineering parameters that may affect the behavior of adult stem cells in culture. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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