Isolation and characterization of Oct-4+/HLA-G+ mesenchymal stem cells from human umbilical cord matrix: differentiation potential and detection of new markers
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The presence of multipotent cells in several adult and embryo-related tissues opened new paths for their use in regenerative medicine. Extraembryonic tissues such as umbilical cord are considered a promising source of stem cells, potentially useful in therapy. The characterization of cells from the umbilical cord matrix (Wharton’s Jelly) and amniotic membrane revealed the presence of a population of mesenchymal-like cells, sharing a set of core-markers expressed by “mesenchymal stem cells”. Several reports enlightened the differentiation capabilities of these cells, even if at times the lack of an extensive characterization of surface markers and immune co-stimulators expression revealed hidden pitfalls when in vivo transplantation was performed. The present work describes a novel isolation protocol for obtaining mesenchymal stem cells from the umbilical cord matrix. These cells are clonogenic, retain long telomeres, can undergo several population doublings in vitro, and can be differentiated in mature mesenchymal tissues as bone and adipose. We describe for the first time that these cells, besides expressing all of the core-markers for mesenchymal stem cells, feature also the expression, at both protein and mRNA level, of tolerogenic molecules and markers of all the three main lineages, potentially important for both their differentiative potential as well as immunological features.