Comment to: “Spontaneous transformation of adult mesenchymal stem cells from cynomolgus macaques in vitro” by Z. Ren et al. Exp. Cell Res. 317 (2011) 2950-2957

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Abstract

There is at present a controversy in the literature whether MSCs are susceptible to spontaneous in vitro transformation or not. Several groups have reported spontaneous transformation of MSCs from various species. However, some of these reports were not true transformations and later proven to be due to cross-contaminating cancer cells. To date there is no solid evidence that MSCs can undergo spontaneous transformation in culture. Only two groups used DNA fingerprinting to authenticate their transformed cells, and both groups later showed cross-contamination of cancer cells in their cultures. In this commentary, we address the paper “Spontaneous transformation of adult mesenchymal stem cells from cynomolgus macaques in vitro” by Z. Ren et al. Exp. Cell Res. 317 (2011) 2950–2957. In this article the authors characterize the transformed mesenchymal cells (TMCs) and claim to have verified their origin. We question the authentication of the TMCs made by the authors and we also believe it is in the interest of the scientific community, that a highly controversial finding, such as spontaneous transformation of MSCs, should be properly verified by stringent methods, preferably DNA fingerprinting, in order to validate if an actual transformation event has occurred.

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