The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 52: 1023 - 1032 (2008)

Vol 52, Issue 8

From bone marrow to therapeutic applications: different behaviour and genetic/epigenetic stability during mesenchymal stem cell expansion in autologous and foetal bovine sera?

Review | Published: 1 October 2008

Gaetana A. Tonti and Ferdinando Mannello*

Department of Biomolecular Sciences, Section of Clinical Biochemistry, University “Carlo Bo”, I-61029 Urbino (PU), Italy


Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells are a multipotent adult cellular population endowed with broad differentiation potential. Their regeneration capability, ease to undergo gene modifications, and immuno-suppressive capacity makes them optimal tools for tissue engineering, gene- and immuno-therapy. Due to the ever-increasing number of studies on the clinical applications of mesenchymal stem cells in regenerative medicine, these cells have become attractive targets in clinical transplantation. However, the identification and definition of mesenchymal stem cell culture media for their clinical application in cell therapy is currently a matter of strong discussion. Up to now, clinical studies have been conducted with mesenchymal stem cells cultured in foetal calf serum, and the chance of contamination or immunological reaction towards xenogeneic compounds must be taken into consideration. On the other hand, a serum-free medium without the addition of growth factors is not able to expand these cells in vitro; so the evaluation of which is best, among foetal calf serum, human serum (whether autologous or allogeneic) and platelet-rich plasma, is a “hot topic” urgently needing further research efforts. The need for the establishment of standardized protocols for mesenchymal stem cell preparations, in order not to interfere with their self-renewal and differentiation processes, assuring durable engraftment and long-term therapeutic effects, is evidently crucial. Therefore, the search for optimal culture conditions for the effective clinical-scale production of vast numbers of mesenchymal stem cells for cellular therapy is of paramount importance and the need for a robust passage from basic to translational research is fundamental.


AB serum, autologous serum, mesenchymal stem cell, platelet-rich medium

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