© 2015 International Federation for Cell Biology. We isolated human embryonic cartilage stem cells (hECSCs), a novel stem cell population, from the articular cartilage of eight-week-old human embryos. These stem cells demonstrated a marker expression pattern and differentiation potential intermediate to those of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and human adult stem cells (hASCs). hECSCs expressed markers associated with both hESCs (OCT4, NANOG, SOX2, SSEA-3 and SSEA-4) and human adult stem cells (hASCs) (CD29, CD44, CD90, CD73 and CD10). These cells also differentiated into adipocytes, osteoblasts, chondrocytes, neurons and islet-like cells under specific inducing conditions. We identified N 6 , 2′-O-dibutyryl cyclic adenosine 3′:5′-monophosphate (Bt 2 cAMP) as an inducer of chondrogenic differentiation in hECSCs. Similar results using N 6 , 2′-O- dibutyryl cyclic adenosine 3′:5′- monophosphate (Bt 2 cAMP) were obtained for two other types of human embryonic tissue-derived stem cells, human embryonic hepatic stem cells (hEHSCs) and human embryonic amniotic fluid stem cells (hEASCs), both of which exhibited a marker expression pattern similar to that of hECSCs. The isolation of hECSCs and the discovery that N 6 , 2′-O- dibutyryl cyclic adenosine 3′:5′- monophosphate (Bt 2 cAMP) induces chondrogenic differentiation in different stem cell populations might aid the development of strategies in tissue engineering and cartilage repair.
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