Mesenchymal Stem Cell FAQs

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are defined as a self-renewing population of adherent multipotent progenitor cells with the capacity to differentiate into several mesenchymal cell lineages including bone, cartilage and adipose tissue. Recently, mesenchymal stem cells have become cells of increased interest due to their use in potential allogenic stem cell therapies.

Mesenchymal Stem Cell Products

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are mesenchymal stem cells?
    Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent adult stem cells, which can self-renew by dividing and can differentiate into various tissues including, bone, cartilage, adipose tissue (fat cells), connective tissue and muscle1.

  2. What are the types of mesenchymal stem cells?
    Mesenchymal stem cells are categorized based on the origin, such as bone marrow-derived MSCs (BM-MSCs), umbilical cord MSCs, adipose-derived MSCs (ASCs), heart MSCs and lung MSCs2.

  3. Where do mesenchymal stem cells come from?
    They are majorly isolated from bone marrow. However, cells which display characteristics of mesenchymal stem cells are also found in adipose tissue, peripheral blood, cord blood, skin, cartilage, synovial fluid, bone, tendons, muscle, salivary gland, dental tissues, fetal membrane, endometrium, Wharton’s jelly and sub-amniotic umbilical cord lining membrane3.

  4. What can mesenchymal stem cells differentiate into?
    Mesenchymal stem cells differentiate into cells derived from all three lineages, such as:

    • Skin, neurons, glial cells derived from ectoderm
    • Bone, cartilage, fat and muscle cells derived from mesoderm
    • Hepatocytes, pancreatic cells derived from endoderm
  5. What are the methods used to isolate mesenchymal stem cells?
    Human mesenchymal stem cells are isolated based on their tissue origin. Majorly, two methods are being used:

    • Ficoll density gradient method: Used to isolate mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow, peripheral blood and synovial fluid4.

    • Collagenase digestion method: Used to isolate mesenchymal stem cells from adipose, dental, foreskin, endometrium, Wharton’s Jelly and placenta5.
  6. What are the characteristics of MSC?
    International Society of Cellular therapy has listed specific characteristics of mesenchymal stem cells6, which are:

  7. Which media is used to expand mesenchymal stem cells in culture?
    Optimized and high quality MSC expansion media are available including  Human Mesenchymal-LS Expansion Medium, Human Mesenchymal-XF Expansion  and cGMP compliant Stemline® Mesenchymal Stem Cell Expansion Medium.

    In addition PLTMax® Human Platelet Lysate is a growth factor rich human derived media supplement that is a superior alternative to fetal bovine serum (FBS) for human mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) culture.

  8. Which media is suitable to differentiate MSC into osteocytes?
    is a specially formulated xeno-free media to readily differentiate human mesenchymal stem cells into osteocytes.  OsteoMAX-XF was based on patented, bead-based combinatorial technology, that produces mature osteocytes expressing bone-specific and mineralization markers in as little as 7-10 days.

  9. Are there any clinical treatments available using MSC?
    No, still they are in clinical trials. The multi-lineage potential and homing ability of MSC offers therapeutic strategies to treat skeletal and neurodegenerative diseases. Considering the secretion of anti-inflammatory molecules and immunoregulatory effects, MSCs are also promising to treat autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

  10. What are autologous and allogenic MSC and what are its pros and cons?
  Autologous MSC Allogeneic MSC
Definition • MSC isolated from patient’s own
  body and transplanted back into
  the patient
• MSC isolated from healthy patient and
  administered into patient
Pros • No objection from FDA to use
  autologous stem cells for therapeutic
• Stem cells have maximum potency, as they
  are frequently isolated from younger donors

• Readily available and can be translated

• Cost and time effective
Cons • Less potent

• Difficult to obtain stem cells from
  elderly patients

• Systemic diseases alter the intrinsic
  properties of MSCs
• In a long-term, allogeneic MSC could be
  cleared by host antibodies from the body


  1. Why do mesenchymal stem cells show immunosuppression and low immunogenicity?
    Mesenchymal stem cells avoid immune response by:

    • Expressing low levels of class I MHC molecules and not expressing class II MHC and co-stimulatory molecules (CD80, CD86 and CD40)7.

    • Inhibiting immunogenic activity of T cells, B cell, dendritic cells and natural killer cells either through cell-cell contacts or soluble factors7.

    Figure 1. The multi-lineage differentiation potential of mesenchymal stem cells. MSC cultures have the multi-lineage capacity to differentiate towards a variety of cell types. Given the ability of MSCs to give rise to a number of cell types, these cells are highly attractive models for investigation, especially in regenerative medicine applications.




  1. Horwitz, E. M., Le Blanc, K., Dominici, M., Mueller, I., Slaper-Cortenbach, I., Marini, F. C., Deans, R. J., Krause, D. S., Keating, A., and International Society for Cellular Therapy. (2005) Clarification of the nomenclature for MSC: The International Society for Cellular Therapy position statement. Cytotherapy 7, 393–395.
  2. Hass, R., Kasper, C., Böhm, S., and Jacobs, R. (2011) Different populations and sources of human mesenchymal stem cells (MSC): A comparison of adult and neonatal tissue-derived MSC. Cell Commun. Signal. CCS 9, 12.
  3. Ullah, I., Subbarao, R. B., and Rho, G. J. (2015) Human mesenchymal stem cells - current trends and future prospective. Biosci. Rep. 35.
  4. Raynaud, C. M., Maleki, M., Lis, R., Ahmed, B., Al-Azwani, I., Malek, J., Safadi, F. F., and Rafii, A. (2012) Comprehensive characterization of mesenchymal stem cells from human placenta and fetal membrane and their response to osteoactivin stimulation. Stem Cells Int. 2012, 658356.
  5. Schüring, A. N., Schulte, N., Kelsch, R., Röpke, A., Kiesel, L., and Götte, M. (2011) Characterization of endometrial mesenchymal stem-like cells obtained by endometrial biopsy during routine diagnostics. Fertil. Steril. 95, 423–426.
  6. Dominici, M., Le Blanc, K., Mueller, I., Slaper-Cortenbach, I., Marini, F., Krause, D., Deans, R., Keating, A., Prockop, D., and Horwitz, E. (2006) Minimal criteria for defining multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells. The International Society for Cellular Therapy position statement. Cytotherapy 8, 315–317.
  7. Zhang, J., Huang, X., Wang, H., Liu, X., Zhang, T., Wang, Y., and Hu, D. (2015) The challenges and promises of allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells for use as a cell-based therapy. Stem Cell Res. Ther. 6, 234.


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