, Volume 334, Issue 3, pp 423-433
Date: 22 Oct 2008

Fetal mesenchymal stem cells derived from human umbilical cord sustain primitive characteristics during extensive expansion

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Stem cells of fetal origin lie between embryonic and adult stem cells in terms of potentiality. Because of the ethical controversy surrounding embryonic stem cells and the relatively inferior quality of adult stem cells, the use of fetal stem cells would be an attractive option in future therapeutic applications. Here, we have investigated primitive characteristics of human umbilical-cord-derived fetal mesenchymal stem cells (UC fMSCs) during extensive expansion. We have successfully isolated and cultured UC fMSCs from all UC samples, but with two early fungal contaminations. UC fMSCs proliferated without significant evidence of morphological changes, and the average cumulative population-doubling level was over 25 for about 3 months. UC fMSCs showed the positive expression of several CD markers, known to be related to MSCs, including CD73 (SH-3, 4), CD90 (Thy-1), CD105 (SH-2), CD117 (c-kit), and CD166 (ALCAM). They demonstrated primitive properties throughout the expansion period: multilineage differentiation potentials examined by functional assays, a variety of pluripotent stem cell markers including Nanog, Oct-4, Sox-2, Rex-1, SSEA-3, SSEA-4, Tra-1–60, and Tra-1–81, minimal evidence of senescence as shown by β-galactosidase staining, and the consistent expression of telomerase activity. These results suggest that UC fMSCs have more primitive properties than adult MSCs, which might make them a useful source of MSCs for clinical applications.

This work was supported by the Seoul R&BD Program (10548).