Currently, there is an increasing focus on mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) as therapeutic option in bone pathologies as well as in general regenerative medicine. Although human MSCs have been extensively characterized and standardized, ovine MSCs are poorly understood. This limitation hampers clinical progress, as sheep are an excellent large animal model for orthopedic studies. Our report describes a direct comparison of human and ovine MSCs from three corresponding sources under the same conditions. All MSCs presented solid growth behavior and potent immunomodulatory capacities. Additionally, we were able to identify common positive (CD29, CD44, CD73, CD90, CD105, CD166) and negative (CD14, CD34, CD45, HLA-DR) surface markers. Although both human and ovine MSCs showed strong osteogenic potential, direct comparison revealed a slower mineralization process in ovine MSCs. Regarding gene expression level, both human and ovine MSCs presented a comparable up-regulation of Runx2 and a trend toward down-regulation of Col1A during osteogenic differentiation. In summary, this side by side comparison defined phenotypic similarities and differences of human and ovine MSCs from three different sources, thereby contributing to a better characterization and standardization of ovine MSCs. The key findings shown in this report demonstrate the utility of ovine MSCs in preclinical studies for MSC-based therapies.
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