Mesenchymal Stromal/Stem Cells from human Wharton’s jelly (WJ-MSC) are an abundant and interesting source of stem cells for applications in cell and tissue engineering. Their fetal origin confers specific characteristics compared to Mesenchymal Stromal/Stem Cells isolated from human bone marrow (BM-MSC). The aim of this work was to optimize WJ-MSC culture conditions for their subsequent clinical use. We focused on the influence of oxygen concentration during monolayer expansion on several parameters to characterize MSC.
Our work distinguished WJ-MSC from BM-MSC in terms of proliferation, telomerase activity and adipogenic differentiation. We also showed that hypoxia had a beneficial effect on proliferation potential, clonogenic capacity and to a lesser extent, on HLA-G expression of WJ-MSC during their expansion. Moreover, we reported for the first time an increase in chondrogenic differentiation when WJ-MSC were expanded under hypoxia.
In an allogeneic therapeutic context, production of clinical batches requires generating high numbers of MSC whilst maintaining the cells’ properties. Considering our results, hypoxia will be an important parameter to take into account. In addition, the clinical use of WJ-MSC would provide significant numbers of cells with maintenance of their proliferation and differentiation potential, particularly their chondrogenic potential. Due to their chondrogenic differentiation potential, WJ-MSC promise to be an interesting source of MSC for cell therapy or tissue engineering for cartilage repair and/or regeneration