Myogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stromal cells

In the cell-based tissue engineering of muscle tissues, autologous smooth muscle cells are often used as a cell source. However, such cells are often unavailable, as they cannot be generated from diseased organs or those with malignancies. Moreover, the removal of muscle tissue for generating autologous smooth muscle cells creates another muscle defect and can result in high morbidity.

The use of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) differentiated towards a smooth muscle cell phenotype may provide a promising alternative. Melanie and her team developed a xenogenic-free protocol for differentiating MSCs into contractile smooth muscle cells within 1-2 weeks that could be made available for in vitro / in vivo studies. Current aims include the development of a novel and clinically applicable approach for driving adult progenitor cells into skeletal muscle for regeneration in traumatized or degenerating tissues.


Barisic D, Erb M, Follo F, Abduljallel D, Rolauffs B, Hart ML. Lack of a skeletal muscle phenotype in adult human bone marrow stromal cells following xenogeneic-free expansion. Stem Cell Research & Therapy. 2020 Feb 22;11(1):79

Rothdiener M, Hegemann M, Uynuk-Ool T, Walters B, Papugy P, Nguyen P, Claus V, Seeger T, Stoeckle U, Boehme KA, Aicher WK, Stegemann JP, Hart ML, Kurz B, Klein G, Rolauffs BR. Stretching human mesenchymal stromal cells on stiffness-customized collagen type I generates a smooth muscle marker profile without growth factor addition. Scientific Reports. 2016 Oct 24;6:35840

Comparative phenotypic transcriptional characterization of human full-term placenta-derived mesenchymal stromal cells compared to bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells after differentiation in myogenic medium. Hart ML, Kaupp M, Brun J, Aicher WK. Placenta.  2017 Jan;49:64-67

Brun J, Abruzzese T, Rolauffs B, Aicher WK, Hart ML. Choice of xenogenic-free expansion media significantly influences the myogenic differentiation potential of human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stromal cells. Cytotherapy. 2016 Mar;18(3):344-59. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2015.11.019

Brun J, Lutz KA, Neumayer KMH, Klein G, Seeger T, Uynuk-Ool T, Wörgötter K, Schmid S, Kraushaar U, Guenther E, Rolauffs B, Aicher WK, Hart ML. Smooth muscle-like cells generated from human mesenchymal stromal cells display marker gene expression and electrophysiological competence comparable to bladder smooth muscle cells. PlosOne. 2015 Dec 16;10(12):e0145153. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0145153

Seeger T, Hart ML, Ingerpuu S, Patarroyo M, Aicher WK, Klein G. Mesenchymal stromal cells for sphincter regeneration: role of laminin isoforms upon myogenic differentiation. PLoS One. 2015 Sep 25;10(9):e0137419

Assoc. Prof. (PD) Melanie Hart, Ph.D.

Dept. of Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery Freiburg University Medical Center

Section Head, Immunomodulation and Regenerative Medicine


Habilitation at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen

Doctor of Philosophy (Immunology and Microbiology), Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, USA

Bachelor’s of Science in Applied Biology, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, Michigan, USA


Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, USA

Tübingen University Medical Center and BG Trauma Center Tübingen, Germany