Adult bone marrow (BM) contains hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) as well as a nonhematopoietic, stromal cell population. Within this stromal population are mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), which not only support hematopoiesis but also differentiate into multiple lineages, including fat, bone, and cartilage. Because of this multipotentiality, the MSC is an attractive candidate for clinical applications to repair or regenerate damaged tissues of mesenchymal origin. However, research progress has been hampered by the limited existing knowledge of the biology of these cells, particularly by the lack of a suitable marker for their prospective isolation. Here, we report that SSEA-4, an early embryonic glycolipid antigen commonly used as a marker for undifferentiated pluripotent human embryonic stem cells and cleavage to blastocyst stage embryos, also identifies the adult mesenchymal stem cell population.
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