Background: Amniotic fluid derived mesenchymal stem cells (AF-MSCs) are adult, fibroblast-like, self-renewable, multipotent stem cells. During the last decade, therapeutic potential of AF-MSCs, based on their huge differentiation capacity and immunomodulatory characteristics, have been extensively explored in animal models of degenerative and inflammatory diseases.
Objective: In order to describe molecular mechanisms responsible for therapeutic effects of AF-MSCs, we summarized current knowledge about phenotype, differentiation potential and immunosuppressive properties of AF-MSCs.
Method: An extensive literature review was carried out in March 2018 across several databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, Google Scholar), from 1990 to present. Keywords used in the selection were: “amniotic fluid derived mesenchymal stem cells”, “cell-therapy”, “degenerative diseases”, “inflammatory diseases”, “regeneration”, “immunosuppression”. Studies that emphasized molecular and cellular mechanisms responsible for AF-MSC-based therapy were analyzed in this review.
Results: AF-MSCs have huge differentiation and immunosuppressive potential. AF-MSCs are capable to generate cells of mesodermal origin (chondrocytes, osteocytes and adipocytes), neural cells, hepatocytes, alveolar epithelial cells, insulin-producing cells, cardiomyocytes and germ cells. AF-MSCs, in juxtacrine or paracrine manner, regulate proliferation, activation and effector function of immune cells. Due to their huge differentiation capacity and immunosuppressive characteristic, transplantation of AF-MSCs showed beneficent effects in animal models of degenerative and inflammatory diseases of nervous, respiratory, urogenital, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal system.
Conclusion: Considering the fact that amniotic fluid is obtained through routine prenatal diagnosis, with minimal invasive procedure and without ethical concerns, AF-MSCs represents a valuable source for cell-based therapy of organ-specific or systemic degenerative and inflammatory diseases.