"The phenotypic characterization of multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) still suffers from deficits and the resulting heterogeneity of MSC used in different preclinical and clinical studies hamper the translational success. In search for novel MSC characterization approaches to complement the traditional trilineage differentiation and immunophenotyping assays reliably across species and culture conditions, this study explored the applicability of lipid phenotyping for MSC characterization and discrimination. Human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), human fibroblasts, and human and equine adipose-derived MSC were used to compare different mesodermal cell types and MSC from different species. For MSC, cells cultured in different conditions, including medium supplementation with either fetal bovine serum or platelet lysate as well as culture on collagen-coated dishes, were additionally investigated. After cell harvest, lipids were extracted by chloroform/methanol according to Bligh and Dyer. The lipid profiles were analysed by an untargeted approach using liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (LC-MS) with a reversed phase column and an ion trap mass spectrometer. In all samples, phospholipids and sphingomyelins were found, while other lipids were not detected with the current approach. The phospholipids included different species of phosphatidylcholine (PC), phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), phosphatidylinositol (PI) and phosphatidylserine (PS) in all cell types, whereas phosphatidylglycerol (PG) species were only present in MSC. MSC from both species showed a higher phospholipid species diversity than PBMC and fibroblasts. Few differences were found between MSC from different culture conditions, except that human MSC cultured with platelet lysate exhibited a unique phenotype in that they exclusively featured PE O-40:4, PG 38:6 and PG 40:6. In search for specific and inclusive candidate MSC lipid markers, we identified PE O-36:3 and PG 40:7 as potentially suitable markers across culture conditions, at which PE O-36:3 might even be used across species. On that basis, phospholipid phenotyping is a highly promising approach for MSC characterization, which might condone some heterogeneity within the MSC while still achieving a clear discrimination even from fibroblasts. Particularly the presence or absence of PG might emerge as a dinstinctive criterion for future MSC characterization.
This study has recently been published under the creative commons license in Front Cell Dev Biol. (2021 Dec 1;9:784405; doi: 10.3389/fcell.2021.784405)."