Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are an example of tissue or “adult” stem cells. They are “multipotent,” meaning they can produce more than one type of specialized cell of the body. MSCs make the different specialized cells found in the skeletal tissues. For example, they can differentiate − or specialize − into cartilage cells (chondrocytes), bone cells (osteoblasts), and fat cells (adipocytes). These specialized cells each have their own characteristic shapes, structures, and functions, and each belong in a particular tissue.
Research suggests that MSCs might also differentiate into many different types of cells that do not belong to the skeletal tissues, such as nerve cells, heart muscle cells, liver cells and endothelial cells, which form the inner layer of blood vessels.