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Current Stem Cell Research & Therapy


ISSN (Print): 1574-888X
ISSN (Online): 2212-3946

Mesenchymal Stem Cells Derived from Wharton's Jelly of the Umbilical Cord: Biological Properties and Emerging Clinical Applications

Author(s): Aristea K. Batsali, Maria-Christina Kastrinaki, Helen A. Papadaki and Charalampos Pontikoglou

Volume 8, Issue 2, 2013

Page: [144 - 155] Pages: 12

DOI: 10.2174/1574888X11308020005


In recent years there seems to be an unbounded interest concerning mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). This is mainly attributed to their exciting characteristics including long-term ex vivo proliferation, multilineage potential and immunomodulatory properties. In this regard MSCs emerge as attractive candidates for various therapeutic applications. MSCs were originally isolated from the bone marrow (BM) and this population is still considered as the gold standard for MSC applications. Nevertheless the BM has several limitations as source of MSCs, including MSC low frequency in this compartment, the painful isolation procedure and the decline in MSC characteristics with donor's age. Thus, there is accumulating interest in identifying alternative sources for MSCs. To this end MSCs obtained from the Wharton's Jelly (WJ) of umbilical cords (UC) have gained much attention over the last years since they can be easily isolated, without any ethical concerns, from a tissue which is discarded after birth. Furthermore WJ-derived MSCs represent a more primitive population than their adult counterparts, opening new perspectives for cell-based therapies. In this review we will at first give an overview of the biology of WJ-derived UC-MSCs. Then their potential application for the treatment of cancer and immune mediated disorders, such graft versus host disease (GVHD) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) will be discussed, and finally their putative role as feeder layer for ex vivo hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) expansion will be pointed out.

Keywords: Graft versus host disease, hematopoietic stem cells, mesenchymal stem cells, umbilical cord, Wharton's jelly, post-natal bone marrow, Stromal Cell Population, total nucleated cells

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