Background: Since the discovery and isolation of a mesenchymal stem cell population from
within the stromal vascular fraction (SVF) of adipose tissue, there has been a concerted effort to discover
the characteristics of these cells. Particular attention has been paid to their morphology, selfrenewal
capacity, multi-lineage differentiation capabilities and, as is of greatest interest in this instance,
their cell surface profile.
Objectives: The purpose of this study is to analyze and summarize the available literature that pertains
to the cell surface characterization of adipose-derived stem cells (ASCs). The identification of a common
set of positive and negative cell surface markers would allow for a much more consistent and reliable
method of identifying this stem cell population both in vitro and in vivo.
Search Methods: The keywords “adipose-derived stem cells; stromal cells; surface markers” were
searched in the following electronic databases: Medline, PubMed, ZETOC, Web of Knowledge,
AMED, EMBASE, Ovid in process & other non-indexed citations and PsychINFO.
Results: The most commonly reported positive markers were found to be CD90, CD44, CD29, CD105,
CD13, CD34, CD73, CD166, CD10, CD49e and CD59, while the most commonly found negative
markers were CD31, CD45, CD14, CD11b, CD34, CD19, CD56 and CD146. In addition, a number of
other markers appeared in the literature including HLA-ABC, HLA-DR, SH2, SH3, STRO-1, VEGF2,
vWF, ABCG2, SSEA-1 (CD15), PDGFR, alpha- SMA, c-Kit (CD117), OCT4+ and CCR5X (CD195).
Conclusion: A minimum panel of positive and negative markers for identifying ASCs can be recommended.
The following markers should be positive: CD90, CD44, CD29, CD105, CD13, CD34, CD73,
CD166, CD10, CD49e and CD59. The following markers should be negative: CD31, CD45, CD14,
CD11b, CD19, CD56 and CD146. In addition to this, the positive expression of HLA- ABC and STRO-
1 should be seen along with the negative expression on HLA-DR. This review, however, has also found
that there are a number of disagreements over the expression and existence of various markers, namely
CD31, CD34, c- Kit (CD117) and STRO-1.