Mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (MSCs) have the potential to form colonies in culture and reside in adult tissues. Because MSCs have been defined using cells cultured in vitro, discrepancies have arisen between studies concerning their properties. There are also differences between populations obtained using different isolation methods. This review article focuses on recent developments in the identification of novel MSC markers for the in vivo localization and prospective isolation of human MSCs. The prospective isolation method described in this study represents an important strategy for the isolation of MSCs in a short period of time, and may find applications for regenerative medicine. Purified MSCs can be tailored according to their intended clinical therapeutic applications. Lineage tracing methods define the MSC phenotype and can be used to investigate the physiological roles of MSCs in vivo. These findings may facilitate the development of effective stem cell treatments.
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