© 2019 The Author(s). Background: Contrary to the minimal criteria proposed by the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy for defining multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC), human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DR expression is largely unpredictable in ex vivo-expanded clinical-grade cultures. Although activation of MSC in culture does not appear to affect their functionality, a large study investigating the impact of HLA-DR expression on cell identity and potency is still missing in the literature. Methods: A retrospective analysis of HLA-DR expression in 130 clinical batches of bone marrow (BM)-MSC from two independent Good Manufacturing Practice-compliant production facilities was performed in order to identify the consequences on critical quality attributes as well as potential activation cues and dynamics of MSC activation in culture. Results: HLA-DR+ cells in culture were confirmed to maintain fibroblastic morphology, mesenchymal phenotype identity, multipotency in vitro, and immunomodulatory capacity. Interestingly, the use of either human sera or platelet lysate supplements resulted in similar results. Conclusions: HLA-DR expression should be considered informative rather than as a criterion to define MSC. Further work is still required to understand the impact of HLA-DR expression in the context of product specifications on BM-MSC qualities for clinical use in specific indications.
- Cell culture
- Cellular therapy
- Multipotent mesenchymal stromal cell
- Quality compliance