Mesenchymal stem cells: a perspective from in vitro cultures to in vivo migration and niches

Andrea Augello, Tobias B Kurth, Cosimo De Bari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

286 Citations (Scopus)


Mesenchymal Stromal Progenitor/Stem Cells (MSCs) are a rare population of non-hematopoietic stromal cells, present in the bone marrow and most connective tissues of the body. They are capable of differentiation into mesenchymal tissues such as bone, cartilage, adipose tissue and muscle. In the absence of specific markers, MSCs have been defined following isolation and culture expansion, by their expression of various molecules including CD90, CD105 and CD73 and absence of markers like CD34, CD45, and CD14. MSCs have extensive proliferative ability in culture in an uncommitted state while retaining their multilineage differentiation potential, which make them attractive candidates for biological cell-based tissue repair approaches. However, their identity in their tissues of origin is not clear and the niches in which they reside are not defined. This review addresses the current state of MSC research including the differentiation potency of culture expanded MSCs, expression of chemokines and their receptors in MSCs--both relevant issues for the advocated use of MSCs for tissue repair and their systemic delivery to the affected tissues. It also reviews current knowledge of MSC niches in their native tissues, addressing the relationship with pericytes. Finally, it provides a scientific basis for the requirement of a thorough characterisation of the endogenous MSC niches within their native tissues in vivo. The knowledge of MSC niches will instruct development of innovative therapeutic measures such as producing pharmacological substances that target endogenous MSCs and their niches in order to activate and guide intrinsic repair and to improve disease outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-133
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Cells & Materials
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2010


  • stem cells
  • mesenchymal stromal progenitors
  • niche
  • pericytes
  • regenerative medicine
  • migration
  • chemokines
  • differentiation
  • cartilage
  • bone


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