Raquel Costa-Almeida, Raquel Soares and Pedro L. Granja
Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, In Press (2017)
Fibroblasts constitute a dynamic and versatile population of cells of mesenchymal origin, implicated in both regenerative strategies and pathological conditions. Despite being frequently associated to disease development, particularly through the establishment of fibrotic tissue, fibroblasts hold great potential for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications. They are responsible for synthesizing and depositing extracellular matrix components, allowing other cells to settle and migrate along a three-dimensional support and thereby generating an organ-specific architecture. Additionally, they produce bioactive molecules that are involved in several physiological processes, including angiogenesis and tissue repair. Although there seems to be much still to unveil about these fascinating cells they have been attracting increasing interest and are now being intensively explored as a cell source to develop bioengineered tissue constructs or to improve stem cell-based technologies. This review intends to highlight the potential of fibroblasts in orchestrating tissue regeneration, as well as to contribute to uncover uncharted prospective applications of these cells.