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Int J Stem Cells. 2019 Mar 30;12(1):84-94. doi: 10.15283/ijsc18102.

Effect of Substrate Topography and Chemistry on Human Mesenchymal Stem Cell Markers: A Transcriptome Study.

Author information

Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.
BGI-Shenzhen, Shenzhen 518083, China.
Oxford Suzhou Centre for Advanced Research, Suzhou Industrial Park, Jiangsu, China.


Background and Objectives:

The International Society for Cellular Therapy (ISCT) proposed a set of minimal markers for identifying human mesenchymal stromal cells (hMSCs) in 2007. Since then, with the growing interest of better characterising hMSCs, various additional surface markers have been proposed. However, the impact of how culture conditions, in particular, the culture surface, vary the expression of hMSC markers was overlooked.

Methods and Results:

In this study, we utilized the RNA sequencing data on hMSCs cultured on different surfaces to investigate the variation of the proposed hMSC biomarkers. One of the three ISCT proposed positive biomarker, CD90 was found to be significantly down regulated on hMSCs culture on fibrous surfaces when compared to flat surfaces. The detected gene expression values for 177 hMSCs biomarkers compiled from the literature are reported here. Correlation and cluster analysis revealed the existence of different biomarker communities that displayed a similar expression profile. We found a list of hMSCs biomarkers which are the least sensitive to a change in surface properties and another list of biomarkers which are found to have high sensitivity to a change in surface properties.


This study demonstrated that substrate properties have paramount effect on altering the expressions of hMSCs biomarkers and the proposed list of substrate-stable and substrate-sensitive biomarkers would better assist in the population characterisation. However, proteomic level analysis would be essential to confirm the observations noted.


Cell biomaterial interactions; Human mesenchymal stromal cells; Next generation sequencing; Quality control; Regenerative medicine; Surface markers

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