Functional heterogeneity of mesenchymal stem cells from natural niches to culture conditions: implications for further clinical uses

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2021 Jan;78(2):447-467. doi: 10.1007/s00018-020-03600-0. Epub 2020 Jul 22.


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are present in all organs and tissues. Several studies have shown the therapeutic potential effect of MSC or their derived products. However, the functional heterogeneity of MSC constitutes an important barrier for transferring these capabilities to the clinic. MSC heterogeneity depends on their origin (biological niche) or the conditions of potential donors (age, diseases or unknown factors). It is accepted that many culture conditions of the artificial niche to which they are subjected, such as O2 tension, substrate and extracellular matrix cues, inflammatory stimuli or genetic manipulations can influence their resulting phenotype. Therefore, to attain a more personalized and precise medicine, a correct selection of MSC is mandatory, based on their functional potential, as well as the need to integrate all the existing information to achieve an optimal improvement of MSC features in the artificial niche.

Keywords: Aging diseases; Conditioned medium; Diabetes; Exosomes; Extracellular vesicles; Lupus; Regenerative medicine; Secretome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cell Transplantation / methods
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Regenerative Medicine / methods
  • Stem Cell Niche