Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Giving human stem cells a massage to release calcium

Mesenchymal stem cells—adult stem cells that are constantly renewing our bone, cartilage, and muscle—can be stimulated by a gentle massage to release calcium. Bioengineers at UC San Diego published their findings in the February issue of eLife and their work has been recently featured online in BioTechniques.

Understanding how mesenchymal stem cells respond to physical forces in the body, such as blood flow or exercise, is important for a variety of diseases ranging from diabetes to spinal cord injury. Research led by Yingxiao (Peter) Wang, associate professor of bioengineering, shows exactly how pushing and pulling the outsides of these cells can signal changes inside them. For example, a gentle tug on the outer membrane of these cells opens up channels to release calcium ions stored within the cells. 

Read the recent story, which also mentions Wang's upcoming summer workshop on single cell imaging for graduate students and postdocs, in BioTechniques here. More information on this work is also available in the Jacobs School press release from February and in the full paper published in eLifeDistinct mechanisms regulating mechanical force-induced Ca2+ signals at the plasma membrane and the endoplasmic reticulum in human mesenchymal stem cells.”

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