Clarification of the nomenclature for MSC: The International Society for Cellular Therapy position statement

Cytotherapy. 2005;7(5):393-5. doi: 10.1080/14653240500319234.


The plastic-adherent cells isolated from BM and other sources have come to be widely known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSC). However, the recognized biologic properties of the unfractionated population of cells do not seem to meet generally accepted criteria for stem cell activity, rendering the name scientifically inaccurate and potentially misleading to the lay public. Nonetheless, a bona fide MSC most certainly exists. To address this inconsistency between nomenclature and biologic properties, and to clarify the terminology, we suggest that the fibroblast-like plastic-adherent cells, regardless of the tissue from which they are isolated, be termed multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells, while the term mesenchymal stem cells is used only for cells that meet specified stem cell criteria. The widely recognized acronym, MSC, may be used for both cell populations, as is the current practice; thus, investigators must clearly define the more scientifically correct designation in their reports. The International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT) encourages the scientific community to adopt this uniform nomenclature in all written and oral communications.

Publication types

  • Guideline

MeSH terms

  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Stromal Cells / cytology*
  • Stromal Cells / physiology
  • Terminology as Topic*