The Healing Membrane

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Science  22 Jun 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6088, pp. 1483
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6088.1483-c

The omentum is a fold of smooth membrane that forms part of the lining of the abdominal cavity, extending from the stomach to adjacent lower abdominal organs. Although omentum has been observed to promote tissue healing and revascularization and to control inflammation when surgically grafted to injured sites, its mechanisms of action are not well known. Shah et al. found that in a mouse model of lung injury, animals injected with cells prepared from “activated” omentum showed a decrease in tissue inflammation, T cells, and proinflammatory cytokines in the damaged lung. Cells prepared from activated omentum tissue included mononuclear myeloid suppressor cells that could block the proliferation of effector/regulatory T cells, including TH17 cells. Furthermore, activated omentum contained cells that could differentiate into various cell types under specific tissue culture conditions, including epithelial cells and osteoblasts, suggesting that the membrane harbors mesenchymal stem cells. How the omentum recruits these different cell types is not clear, but their presence in the membrane may have implications for omentum's clinical use in tissue repair and healing.

PLOS One. 7, e38368 (2012).

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