, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 1-16
Date: 03 Jul 2010

Human Wharton’s Jelly Stem Cells Have Unique Transcriptome Profiles Compared to Human Embryonic Stem Cells and Other Mesenchymal Stem Cells

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The human umbilical cord that originates from the embryo is an extra-embryonic membrane and the Wharton’s jelly within it is a rich source of stem cells (hWJSCs). It is not definitely known whether these cells behave as human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), human mesenchymal stem cells (hMSC) or both. They have the unique properties of high proliferation rates, wide multipotency, hypoimmunogenicity, do not induce teratomas and have anticancer properties. These advantages are important considerations for their use in cell based therapies and treatment of cancers. In a search for properties that confer these advantages we compared a detailed transcriptome profiling of hWJSCs using DNA microarrays with that of a panel of known hESCs, hMSCs and stromal cells. hWJSCs expressed low levels of the pluripotent embryonic stem cell markers including POUF1, NANOG, SOX2 and LIN28, thus explaining why they do not produce teratomas. Several cytokines were significantly upregulated in hWJSCs including IL12A which is associated with the induction of apoptosis, thus explaining their anticancer properties. When GO Biological Process analysis was compared between the various stem cell types, hWJSCs showed an increased expression of genes associated with the immune system, chemotaxis and cell death. The ability to modulate immune responses makes hWJSCs an important compatible stem cell source for transplantation therapy in allogeneic settings without immunorejection. The data in the present study which is the first detailed report on hWJSC transcriptomes provide a foundation for future functional studies where the exact mechanisms of these unique properties of hWJSCs can be confirmed.