Human mesenchymal stem cells offer a potential alternative to embryonic stem cells in clinical applications. The ability of these cells to self-renew and differentiate into multiple tissues, including bone, cartilage, fat, and other tissues of mesenchymal origin, makes them an attractive candidate for clinical applications. Patients who experience fracture nonunion and metabolic bone diseases, such as osteogenesis imperfecta and hypophosphatasia, have benefited from human mesenchymal stem cell therapy. Because of their ability to modulate immune responses, allogeneic transplant of these cells may be feasible without a substantial risk of immune rejection. The field of regenerative medicine is still facing considerable challenges; however, with the progress achieved thus far, the promise of stem cell therapy as a viable option for fracture nonunion and metabolic bone diseases is closer to reality. In this review, we update the biology and clinical applicability of human mesenchymal stem cells for bone repair and metabolic bone diseases.
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