Background: Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are multipotent progenitor cells used in several cell therapies. MSCs are characterized by the expression of CD73, CD90, and CD105 cell markers, and the absence of CD34, CD45, CD11a, CD19, and HLA-DR cell markers. CD90 is a glycoprotein present in the MSC membranes and also in adult cells and cancer stem cells. The role of CD90 in MSCs remains unknown. Here, we sought to analyse the role that CD90 plays in the characteristic properties of in vitro expanded human MSCs.
Methods: We investigated the function of CD90 with regard to morphology, proliferation rate, suppression of T-cell proliferation, and osteogenic/adipogenic differentiation of MSCs by reducing the expression of this marker using CD90-target small hairpin RNA lentiviral vectors.
Results: The present study shows that a reduction in CD90 expression enhances the osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation of MSCs in vitro and, unexpectedly, causes a decrease in CD44 and CD166 expression.
Conclusion: Our study suggests that CD90 controls the differentiation of MSCs by acting as an obstacle in the pathway of differentiation commitment. This may be overcome in the presence of the correct differentiation stimuli, supporting the idea that CD90 level manipulation may lead to more efficient differentiation rates in vitro.
Keywords: CD90; Differentiation; Fibroblast; Mesenchymal stem cells; Mesenchymal stromal cells; Thy-1.