HUMAN WHARTON'S JELLY MESENCHYMAL STEM CELLS (WJ-MSCs): CHARACTERIZATION AND PROPERTIES
In recent years, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have attracted researchers’ attention because of their promising prospective and potential application in regenerative medicine. MSCs are defined as immature cells with the ability to self-renew and differentiate into specialized cells belonging to different lineages. Due to their high proliferative potential, MSCs can be rapidly expanded in vitro when growing in adhesive plastic dishes containing a classical culture medium. In addition, they are able to differentiate into mature cell-types. Various parts of the umbilical cord (UC) have been considered a promising source of MSCs because they can be isolated in relatively high numbers when compared to other mesenchymal sources and they can be easily cultured or cryopreserved. Many other properties make UC cells a comparatively more desirable therapeutic agent. However, more research is needed in order to elucidate the biological features and specific markers expressed by specific UC MSCs named Wharton jelly mesenchymal stem cells (WJ-MSCs). WJ-MSCs are multipotent stem cells with many advantages as a potential source of MSCs; the tissue is readily available, cells are easy to grow in culture, they can be cryopreserved, and have great expansion capacity in vitro. In this study, we have shown that WJ-MSCs possess MSC features and therefore can be considered as an alternative MSC source in regenerative medicine applications. Following isolation, culture (self-renewal ability), characterization and differentiation of WJ-MSCs according to three different cell phenotypes, we have investigated other stem markers and the immune-modulatory/anti-inflammatory properties of WJ-MSCs. This last investigation introduces a new concept in the utilization of WJ-MSCs in regenerative medicine where instead of replacing function of cells/tissue, stem cells could be used as adjuvant when co-transplanted with other cells, tissue or organs. The results of this research will give us a better understanding of typical MSCs markers from WJ-originated cells and additional peculiar markers still unknown.