BackgroundMSCs isolated from bone marrow (BM-MSCs) have well-established chondrogenic potential, but MSCs derived from the synovial membrane (SM-MSCs) and synovial fluid (SF-MSCs) are thought to possess superior chondrogenicity. This study aimed to compare the in vitro immunophenotype and trilineage and chondrogenic potential of BM-MSCs to SM-MSCs and SF-MSCs.MethodsMSCs were isolated from bone marrow (BM-MSCs), synovial membrane (SM-MSCs), and synovial fluid (SF-MSCs) extracted from the hips (BM) and knees (SM and SF) of advanced OA patients undergoing arthroplasty. Flow cytometric analysis was used at P2 to evaluate cell stemness. The trilinear differentiation test was performed at P2. At P3, MSC-seeded collagen sponges were cultured in chondrogenic medium for 28 days. Chondrogenic gene expression was quantified by qRT-PCR. Finally, the implants were stained to assess the deposition of proteoglycans and type II collagen.ResultsDespite variability, the immunophenotyping of BM-MSCs, SM-MSCs, and SF-MSCs was quite similar. All cell types were positive for the expression of stem cell markers and negative for exclusion markers. Additionally, chondrogenic differentiation and hypertrophy were more pronounced in BM-MSCs (ACAN, SOX9, COL2B, and COL10A) than in SF-MSCs, with SM-MSCs having intermediate characteristics. Concerning matrix synthesis, the three cell types were equipotent in terms of GAG content, while BM-MSC ECM synthesis of type II collagen was superior.ConclusionsChondrogenic MSCs are easily collected from SM and SF in advanced human OA, but in vitro chondrogenesis that is superior to age-matched BM-MSCs should not be expected. However, due to intra-articular priming, SF-MSCs did not overexpress hypertrophic gene.