Stem Cell Reviews and Reports

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 574–584 | Cite as

Wharton’s Jelly Derived Mesenchymal Stem Cells: Comparing Human and Horse

  • Barbara Merlo
  • Gabriella Teti
  • Eleonora Mazzotti
  • Laura Ingrà
  • Viviana Salvatore
  • Marina Buzzi
  • Giorgia Cerqueni
  • Manuela Dicarlo
  • Aliai Lanci
  • Carolina Castagnetti
  • Eleonora Iacono


Wharton’s jelly (WJ) is an important source of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) both in human and other animals. The aim of this study was to compare human and equine WJMSCs. Human and equine WJMSCs were isolated and cultured using the same protocols and culture media. Cells were characterized by analysing morphology, growth rate, migration and adhesion capability, immunophenotype, differentiation potential and ultrastructure. Results showed that human and equine WJMSCs have similar ultrastructural details connected with intense synthetic and metabolic activity, but differ in growth, migration, adhesion capability and differentiation potential. In fact, at the scratch assay and transwell migration assay, the migration ability of human WJMSCs was higher (P < 0.05) than that of equine cells, while the volume of spheroids obtained after 48 h of culture in hanging drop was larger than the volume of equine ones (P < 0.05), demonstrating a lower cell adhesion ability. This can also revealed in the lower doubling time of equine cells (3.5 ± 2.4 days) as compared to human (6.5 ± 4.3 days) (P < 0.05), and subsequently in the higher number of cell doubling after 44 days of culture observed for the equine (20.3 ± 1.7) as compared to human cells (8.7 ± 2.4) (P < 0.05), and to the higher (P < 0.05) ability to form fibroblast colonies at P3. Even if in both species tri-lineage differentiation was achieved, equine cells showed an higher chondrogenic and osteogenic differentiation ability (P < 0.05). Our findings indicate that, although the ultrastructure demonstrated a staminal phenotype in human and equine WJMSCs, they showed different properties reflecting the different sources of MSCs.


Mesenchymal stem cell Wharton’s jelly Horse Human Transmission electron microscopy 



The author wish to thank Mirella Falconi, manager of “Laboratorio di morfologia e biologia cellulare e tissutale” (Department for Biomedical and Neuromotor Sciences). This research was funded by RFO (Ricerca Fondamentale Orientata), University of Bologna.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Merlo
    • 1
  • Gabriella Teti
    • 2
  • Eleonora Mazzotti
    • 3
  • Laura Ingrà
    • 2
  • Viviana Salvatore
    • 4
  • Marina Buzzi
    • 5
  • Giorgia Cerqueni
    • 6
  • Manuela Dicarlo
    • 6
  • Aliai Lanci
    • 1
  • Carolina Castagnetti
    • 1
  • Eleonora Iacono
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Veterinary Medical SciencesUniversity of BolognaOzzano EmiliaItaly
  2. 2.Department for Biomedical and Neuromotor SciencesUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Comparative Biomedical SciencesUniversity of TeramoTeramoItaly
  4. 4.An2H Discovery Limited, National Institute for Cellular Bioetchnology (NICB)Dublin City University CampusGlasnevinIreland
  5. 5.Banca dei Tessuti, del Sangue cordonale e Biobanca Policlinico S.Orsola-MalpighiBolognaItaly
  6. 6.Department of Clinical and Molecular SciencesPolytechnic University of MarcheAnconaItaly

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