High Variability of Mesenchymal Stem Cells Obtained via Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentrate Compared With Traditional Bone Marrow Aspiration Technique

Ava Brozovich, Brent J. Sinicrope, Guillermo Bauza, Federica Banche Niclot, David Lintner, Francesca Taraballi, Patrick C. McCulloch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Bone marrow aspirate (BMA) is a common source for harvesting mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), other progenitor cells, and associated cytokines and growth factors to be used in the biologic treatment of various orthopaedic pathologies. The aspirate is commonly centrifuged into a concentrated volume that can be immediately administered to a patient using commercially available kits. However, the handling and efficacy of BMA concentrate (BMAC) are still controversial. Purpose: To characterize BMA versus BMAC for MSC quantity, potency, and cytokine profile. Study Design: Controlled laboratory study. Methods: From 8 participants (age, 17-68 years), 30 mL of bone marrow was aspirated by a single surgeon from either the proximal humerus or distal femur and was separated into 2 equal samples. One sample was kept as BMA, and the other half was centrifuged into BMAC. The 2 samples then underwent flow cytometry for detection of MSCs, cell analysis for colony-forming units (CFUs), and cytokine profiling. A 2-tailed t test was used to detect differences between MSCs, CFUs, and cytokine density concentrations between BMA and BMAC. Results: The average concentration of MSCs in both BMA and BMAC was 0.001%. Average MSC events detected by flow cytometry were significantly higher in BMA versus BMAC (15.1 and 8.1, respectively; P <.045). Expanded MSCs demonstrated similar phenotypes, but CFUs were significantly increased in BMA compared with BMAC (104 vs 68 CFUs, respectively; P <.001). Total protein concentration and cytokine profiling demonstrated great variability between BMA and BMAC and between patients. Most importantly, BMAC failed to concentrate MSCs in 6 of 8 samples. Conclusion: There is great variability in MSC concentration, total protein concentration, and cytokine profile between BMA and BMAC. Clinical Relevance: When studying the clinical efficacy of BMAC, one must also evaluate the sample itself to determine the presence, concentration, and potency of MSCs if this is to be considered a cell-based therapy. Further standard operating procedures need to be investigated to ensure reproducible results and appropriate treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOrthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 6 2021


  • BMA
  • BMAC
  • MSC
  • bone marrow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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