The scarcity of mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) in bone marrow (BM) has justified their ex vivo expansion before therapeutic use, but a method to evaluate the quality of initial mesenchymal content and track the modifications induced by graft processing has not yet been proposed. The aim of this study was to establish such a procedure. Flow cytometric and functional assay methods were modified to count CD45− CD14−/CD73+ subsets containing all MSC and used them to study BM from spongy bone (SB) and iliac crest aspirate (ICA). These methods detected the target subsets in all BM suspensions derived from SB (n = 154) and ICA, (n = 44) with a satisfactory correlation between immuno-phenotyping and functional tests by low-density plating. We noted a higher overall MSC frequency in SB cell suspensions but a lower plating efficiency of CD45− CD14−/CD73+ SB cells under standard culture conditions.
We propose a cell quality control on un-manipulated BM cell suspensions to quantify the mesenchymal compartment with regard to varying donor factors, such as age and sampling site, that influence expansion and define a therapeutic threshold value. Furthermore, we were able to confirm differences in plating efficiency and proliferative capacity between two BM origins.