Deer antler stem cell niche: An interesting perspective

In recent years, there has been considerable exploration into methods aimed at enhancing the regenerative capacity of transplanted and/or tissue-resident cells. Biomaterials, in particular, have garnered significant interest for their potential to serve as natural scaffolds for cells. In this editorial, we provide commentary on the study by Wang et al, in a recently published issue of World J Stem Cells, which investigates the use of a decellularized xenogeneic extracellular matrix (ECM) derived from antler stem cells for repairing osteochondral defects in rat knee joints. Our focus lies specifically on the crucial role of biological scaffolds as a strategy for augmenting stem cell potential and regenerative capabilities, thanks to the establishment of a favorable microenvironment (niche). Stem cell differentiation heavily depends on exposure to intrinsic properties of the ECM, including its chemical and protein composition, as well as the mechanical forces it can generate. Collectively, these physicochemical cues contribute to a bio-instructive signaling environment that offers tissue-specific guidance for achieving effective repair and regeneration. The interest in mechanobiology, often conceptualized as a form of “structural memory”, is steadily gaining more validation and momentum, especially in light of findings such as these.

Key Words: Extracellular matrix, Antler stem cells, Stem cell niche, Regenerative medicine, Decellularized scaffolds, Cell memory


Core Tip: Recent research has focused on enhancing cell regenerative capacity through biomaterials, particularly natural scaffolds. A novel study published in World J Stem Cells investigates the possibility of using a decellularized xenogeneic extracellular matrix (ECM) from antler stem cells to repair osteochondral defects in rats. Our editorial emphasizes the vital role of biological scaffolds in boosting stem cell potential and regenerative abilities by creating a favorable microenvironment. Stem cell differentiation relies on the ECM properties, including its chemical composition and mechanical forces. This bio-instructive signaling environment offers tissue-specific guidance for effective repair and regeneration, aligning with the growing interest in mechanobiology.

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