Document Type : Original Article


Department of Stem Cells and Developmental Biology, Cell Science Research Center, Royan Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Technology, Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research (ACECR), Tehran, Iran


Rabbits have the capacity to regenerate holes in their ears by forming a blastema, a tissue that is made up of a group of undifferentiated cells. The purpose of the present study was to isolate and characterize blastema progenitor cells and compare them with marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Five New Zealand white male rabbits were used in the present study. A 2-mm hole was created in the animal ears. After 4 days, the blastema ring formed in the periphery of the hole was removed and cultivated. The cells were expanded through several subcultures and compared with the MSCs derived from the marrow of same animal in terms of in vitro differentiation capacity, growth kinetics and culture requirements for optimal proliferation. The primary cultures from both cells tended to be heterogeneous. Fibroblastic cells became progressively dominant with advancing passages. Similar to MSCs blastema passaged-3 cells succeeded to differentiate into bone, cartilage and adipose cell lineages. Even lineage specific genes tended to express in higher level in blastema cells compared to MSCs (p < 0.05). Moreover blastema cells appeared more proliferative; producing more colonies (p < 0.05). While blastema cells showed extensive proliferation in 15% fetal bovine serum (FBS), MSCs displayed higher expansion rate at 10% FBS. In conclusion, blastema from rabbit ear contains a population of fibroblastic cells much similar in characteristic to bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells. However, the two cells were different in the level of lineage-specific gene expression, the growth curve characteristics and the culture requirements.