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The use of stem cells is considered a promising therapy for tissue regeneration and repair, particularly for tissues injured through degeneration, ischemia and inflammation. Bone marrow (BM)-derived haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are rare populations of multipotent stem cells that have been identified as promising potential candidates for treating a broad range of conditions. Although research into the use of stem cells for regenerative medicine is on a steep upward slope, clinical success has not been as forthcoming. This has been primarily attributed to a lack of information on the basic biology of stem cells, which remains insufficient to justify clinical studies. In particular, while our knowledge on the molecular adhesive mechanisms and local environmental factors governing stem cell homing to BM is detailed, our understanding of the mechanisms utilized at injured sites is very limited. For instance, it is unclear whether mechanisms used at injured sites are location specific or whether this recruitment can be modulated for therapeutic purposes. In addition, it has recently been suggested that platelets may play an important role in stem cell recruitment to sites of injury. A better understanding of the mechanisms used by stem cells during tissue homing would allow us to develop strategies to improve recruitment of these rare cells. This review will focus on the status of our current understanding of stem cell homing to injured tissues, the role of platelets and directions for the future.
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