Mesenchymal Stem Cells (MSCs), have been defined and characterized by: 1) their ability to adhere to plastic culture flasks; 2) the positive expression of CD105, CD73, CD90 membrane antigens, and the lack of expression of others (e.g CD45 and CD34) and 3) the ability of differentiation under adequate conditions along the osteogenic, chondrogenic and adipogenic lineages. In recent years, cells with these characteristics have been isolated from the Whartons jelly of the Umbilical Cord (UC). Similarly to bone marrow MSCs, they have shown multilineage differentiation potential and to be able to provide trophic support to neighboring cells. According to the literature, there are two main populations of cells with a mesenchymal character within the human UC: Whartons jelly Mesenchymal Stem Cells (WJ-MSCs) and Human Umbilical Cord Perivascular Cells (HUCPVCs). In the present work our aim is to make a comprehensive review on MSC populations of the UC and how these cell populations may be used for future applications in CNS regenerative medicine. Following a brief insight on the general characteristics of MSC like cells, we will discuss the possible sources of stem cells within the WJ and the cord itself (apart UC blood), as well as their phenotypic character. As it has already been shown that these cells hold a strong trophic support to neighbouring cell populations, we will then focus on their secretome, namely which molecules have already been identified within it and their role in phenomena such as immunomodulation. The possible applications of these cell populations to CNS regenerative medicine will be addressed by critically reviewing the work that has been performed so far in this field. Finally, a brief insight will be made on what in the authors opinion are the major challenges in the field for the future application of these cell populations in CNS regenerative medicine.
Keywords: Mesenchymal stem cells, umbilical cord, Wharton's jelly, secretome, Phenotypic Identity, central nervous system, Immunomodulation, CNS Regenerative Medicine, spinal cord injury, brain ischemia
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