CD90 Identifies Adventitial Mesenchymal Progenitor Cells in Adult Human Medium- and Large-Sized Arteries

Katherine C. Michelis, Aya Nomura-Kitabayashi, Laura Lecce, Oscar Franzén, Simon Koplev, Yang Xu, Maria Paola Santini, Valentina D'Escamard, Jonathan T.L. Lee, Valentin Fuster, Roger Hajjar, Ramachandra C. Reddy, Joanna Chikwe, Paul Stelzer, Farzan Filsoufi, Allan Stewart, Anelechi Anyanwu, Johan L.M. Björkegren, Jason C. Kovacic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) reportedly exist in a vascular niche occupying the outer adventitial layer. However, these cells have not been well characterized in vivo in medium- and large-sized arteries in humans, and their potential pathological role is unknown. To address this, healthy and diseased arterial tissues were obtained as surplus surgical specimens and freshly processed. We identified that CD90 marks a rare adventitial population that co-expresses MSC markers including PDGFRα CD44, CD73, and CD105. However, unlike CD90, these additional markers were widely expressed by other cells. Human adventitial CD90+ cells fulfilled standard MSC criteria, including plastic adherence, spindle morphology, passage ability, colony formation, and differentiation into adipocytes, osteoblasts, and chondrocytes. Phenotypic and transcriptomic profiling, as well as adoptive transfer experiments, revealed a potential role in vascular disease pathogenesis, with the transcriptomic disease signature of these cells being represented in an aortic regulatory gene network that is operative in atherosclerosis. MSCs reportedly exist in a specific vascular niche, but these cells have not been well characterized in medium- and large-sized human arteries. To address this, surplus arterial tissues were obtained at surgery and freshly processed. We show that CD90 marks a human adventitial MSC population, with the CD90+ MSC transcriptomic signature being represented in an atherosclerotic regulatory gene network.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-257
Number of pages16
JournalStem Cell Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Jul 2018


  • adventitia
  • atherosclersis
  • cardiovascular
  • mesenchymal stem cell


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