Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs)

Multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells, more commonly known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), are adult stem cells with a set of characteristic properties defined by The International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT):

  • Plastic-adherent properties
  • Self-renewal capacity
  • Multi-lineage differentiation potential (e.g., osteocytes, adipocytes, and chondrocytes)
  • Characteristic cell surface marker expression

MSCs are isolated from a variety of adult tissues including umbilical cord, bone marrow, adipose tissue, and dental pulp. Although the minimal criteria for MSC identity refers only to the potential for mesodermal differentiation, MSCs may be induced in vitro to transdifferentiate into endodermal (e.g., b-cells and hepatocytes) and ectodermal lineages (e.g., oligodendrocytes and neurons).

View Mouse MSC Isolation Kit

Human mesenchymal stem cells stained for markers of adipogenic (FABP4), osteogenic (Osteocalcin) and chondrogenic (Aggrecan) lineage.

Human mesenchymal stem cells were cultured in StemXVivo (TM) Mesenchymal Stem Cell Expansion Media (CCM004) and differentiation was induced as indicated using the media supplements included in the Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Functional Identification Kit (SC006). The kit also contains a Goat Anti-Mouse FABP-4 Antigen Affinity-purified Polyclonal Antibody (adipocytes), a Goat Anti-Human Aggrecan Antigen Affinity-purified Polyclonal Antibody (chondrocytes), and a Mouse Anti-Human Osteocalcin Monoclonal Antibody (osteocytes) for the confirmation of differentiation status. The cells were stained using the NorthernLights(TM) 557-conjugated Donkey Anti-Goat or Anti-Mouse IgG Secondary Antibodies, and the nuclei were counterstained with DAPI (blue).

Mesenchymal Stem Cell (MSC) Markers

Sets of cell surface markers, which must be expressed or absent from MSCs, have been recognized by the ISCT as one of the minimal criteria for human MSC (hMSC) identification. Expressed markers include CD73, CD90 and CD105, and unexpressed markers include CD11b, CD14, CD19, CD34, CD45, CD79a and HLA-DR. A more specific combination of markers to identify MSCs according to their tissue of origin has been published by Ullah et al. 2015.

hMSCs Origin Expressed in hMSCs Not Expressed in hMSCs

Adipose tissue

CD13, CD29, CD44, CD71, CD73, CD90, CD105, CD166, STRO-1

CD14, CD31, CD34, CD45

Bone marrow

CD73, CD90, CD105, CD106, CD146, STRO-1

CD14, CD34, CD45, HLA-DR

Dental pulp

CD29, CD44, CD90, CD105

CD14, CD34, CD45

Peripheral blood

CD44, CD90, CD105, HLA ABC

CD45, CD133


CD44, CD73, CD90, CD105, CD166, SSEA-4, Vimentin

CD34, CD45, HLA-DR

This table contains only a subset of MSC markers by tissue of origin. See Ullah et al. 2015 for a more complete list.

Human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells stained for expressed cell surface markers CD73, CD90 and CD105.

Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Flow Cytometry Kit [FMC020-NOV] - Human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells were stained using the antibodies and reagents provided in the Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Marker Verification Multi-Color Flow Cytometry Kit. The data shows positive expression of MSC-associated surface antigens CD73, CD90, and CD105. In contrast, minimal expression of antigens recognized by the Negative Marker Cocktail was detected.

 View more MSC Flow Cytometry Kits: Human or Mouse

Mesenchymal Stem Cell (MSC) Functions

MSCs play a central role in vivo in tissue maintenance and repair. Their potential for differentiation into specific lineages provides a mechanism for tissue self-repair following injury, disease, or senescence. In addition, MSCs have other properties that contribute to their homeostatic functions and make them attractive tools in regenerative medicine. For example, MSCs regulate immune responses through various mechanisms involving cell contact and secreted factors, which impact both innate and adaptive immune effectors. Additionally, MSCs release a variety of bioactive molecules, collectively referred to as the "secretome", including growth factors, enzymes, adhesion proteins, and cytokines which modulate various processes.

Mesenchymal stem cells release a variety of signals, collectively known as the secretome, which play diverse biological roles including modulation of immunity, angiogenesis, inflammation and apoptosis.

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Select References

Andrzejewska, A., Lukomska, B., & Janowski, M. (2019). Concise Review: Mesenchymal Stem Cells: From Roots to Boost. Stem Cells.

Cruciani, S., Santaniello, S., Montella, A., Ventura, C., & Maioli, M. (2019). Orchestrating stem cell fate: Novel tools for regenerative medicine. World Journal of Stem Cells.

Glenn, J. D. (2014). Mesenchymal stem cells: Emerging mechanisms of immunomodulation and therapy. World Journal of Stem Cells.

Pankajakshan, D., & Agrawal, D. K. (2014). Mesenchymal Stem Cell Paracrine Factors in Vascular Repair and Regeneration. Journal of Biomedical Technology and Research.

Saeedi, P., Halabian, R., & Imani Fooladi, A. A. (2019). A revealing review of mesenchymal stem cells therapy, clinical perspectives and Modification strategies. Stem Cell Investigation.

Ullah, I., Subbarao, R. B., & Rho, G. J. (2015). Human mesenchymal stem cells - Current trends and future prospective. Bioscience Reports.