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J Invest Dermatol. 2012 Mar;132(3 Pt 1):563-74. doi: 10.1038/jid.2011.355. Epub 2011 Nov 3.

Human dermis harbors distinct mesenchymal stromal cell subsets.

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Laboratory of Cellular and Molecular Immunobiology of the Skin, Division of Immunology, Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Department of Dermatology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


Multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are found in a variety of adult tissues including human dermis. These MSCs are morphologically similar to bone marrow-derived MSCs, but are of unclear phenotype. To shed light on the characteristics of human dermal MSCs, this study was designed to identify and isolate dermal MSCs by a specific marker expression profile, and subsequently rate their mesenchymal differentiation potential. Immunohistochemical staining showed that MSC markers CD73/CD90/CD105, as well as CD271 and SSEA-4, are expressed on dermal cells in situ. Flow cytometric analysis revealed a phenotype similar to bone marrow-derived MSCs. Human dermal cells isolated by plastic adherence had a lower differentiation capacity as compared with bone marrow-derived MSCs. To distinguish dermal MSCs from differentiated fibroblasts, we immunoselected CD271(+) and SSEA-4(+) cells from adherent dermal cells and investigated their mesenchymal differentiation capacity. This revealed that cells with increased adipogenic, osteogenic, and chondrogenic potential were enriched in the dermal CD271(+) population. The differentiation potential of dermal SSEA-4(+) cells, in contrast, appeared to be limited to adipogenesis. These results indicate that specific cell populations with variable mesenchymal differentiation potential can be isolated from human dermis. Moreover, we identified three different subsets of dermal mesenchymal progenitor cells.

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