Mesenchymal stem cells reside in virtually all post-natal organs and tissues

J Cell Sci. 2006 Jun 1;119(Pt 11):2204-13. doi: 10.1242/jcs.02932. Epub 2006 May 9.


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent cells which can give rise to mesenchymal and non-mesenchymal tissues in vitro and in vivo. Whereas in vitro properties such as (trans)differentiation capabilities are well known, there is little information regarding natural distribution and biology in the living organism. To investigate the subject further, we generated long-term cultures of cells with mesenchymal stem cell characteristics from different organs and tissues from adult mice. These populations have morphology, immunophenotype and growth properties similar to bone marrow-derived MSCs. The differentiation potential was related to the tissue of origin. The results indicate that (1) cells with mesenchymal stem characteristics can be derived and propagated in vitro from different organs and tissues (brain, spleen, liver, kidney, lung, bone marrow, muscle, thymus, pancreas); (2) MSC long-term cultures can be generated from large blood vessels such as the aorta artery and the vena cava, as well as from small vessels such as those from kidney glomeruli; (3) MSCs are not detected in peripheral blood. Taken together, these results suggest that the distribution of MSCs throughout the post-natal organism is related to their existence in a perivascular niche. These findings have implications for understanding MSC biology, and for clinical and pharmacological purposes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology
  • Brain / cytology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Separation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Clone Cells
  • Digestive System / cytology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Lung / cytology
  • Male
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Muscles / cytology
  • Organ Specificity
  • Spleen / cytology
  • Thymus Gland / cytology