Adult Mesenchymal Stem Cells and Cell Surface Characterization - A Systematic Review of the Literature

Mafi P1, Hindocha S*, 2, 3, Mafi R1, Griffin M2, Khan W.S4
1 The Hull York Medical School, Heslington, York YO10 5DD, UK
2 Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre, University of Manchester, 131 Princess Street, M17DN, UK
3 Department of Plastic Surgery, Whiston General Hospital, Liverpool, L355DR, UK
4 University College London Institute of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Sciences, Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, Stanmore, Middlesex, HA7 4LP, UK

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© Mafi et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre, University of Manchester, 131 Princess Street, M17DN, UK; Tel: 01244366265; Fax: 01244366277; E-mail:


Human adult mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) were first identified by Friedenstein et al. when observing a group of cells that developed into fibroblastic colony forming cells (CFU-F). Ever since, the therapeutic uses and clinical applications of these cells have increased research and interest in this field. MSCs have the potential to be used in tissue engineering, gene therapy, transplants and tissue injuries. However, identifying these cells can be a challenge. Moreover, there are no articles bringing together and summarizing the cell surface markers of MSCs in adults. The purpose of this study is to summarize all the available information about the cell surface characterization of adult human MSCs by identifying and evaluating all the published literature in this field. We have found that the most commonly reported positive markers are CD105, CD90, CD44, CD73, CD29, CD13, CD34, CD146, CD106, CD54 and CD166. The most frequently reported negative markers are CD34, CD14, CD45, CD11b, CD49d, CD106, CD10 and CD31. A number of other cell surface markers including STRO-1, SH2, SH3, SH4, HLA-A, HLA-B, HLA-C, HLA-DR, HLA-I, DP, EMA, DQ (MHC Class II), CDIO5, Oct 4, Oct 4A, Nanog, Sox-2, TERT, Stat-3, fibroblast surface antigen, smooth muscle alpha-actin, vimentin, integrin subunits alpha4, alpha5, beta1, integrins alphavbeta3 and alphavbeta5 and ICAM-1 have also been reported. Nevertheless, there is great discrepancy and inconsistency concerning the information available on the cell surface profile of adult MSCs and we suggest that further research is needed in this field to overcome the problem.

Keywords: Bone marrow derived multipotent progenitor cells, cell surface profile, mesenchymal stem cells, surface markers.