A Pediatric Perspective on Stem Cells: Expression, Function and Clinical Relevance
In the last ten years, placenta, fetal membranes (i.e. amnion and chorion), and amniotic fluid have been extensively investigated as a potential non-controversial source of stem cells. They are usually discarded after delivery and are accessible during pregnancy through amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling. Several populations of cells with multi-lineage differentiation potential and immunemodulatory properties have been isolated from the human placenta and fetal membranes; they have been classified by an international workshop as human amniotic epithelial cells (hAECs) [human amniotic mesenchymal stromal cells (hAMSCs) human chorionic mesenchymal stromal cells (hCMSCs) and human chorionic trophoblastic cells (hCTCs).
In the amniotic fluid (AF), two main populations of stem cells have been isolated so far: 1. Amniotic Fluid Mesenchymal Stem Cells (AFMSCs) and 2. Amniotic Fluid Stems (AFS) cells. Although only recently described, these cells may, given the easier accessibility of the AF in comparison to other extra-embryonic tissues, hold much promise in regenerative medicine.
Amniotic Fluid (AF): Function, Origin and Composition
The AF is the clear, watery liquid that surrounds the growing fetus within the amniotic cavity. It allows the fetus to freely grow and move inside the uterus, protects it from outside injuries by cushioning sudden blows or movements by maintaining consistent pressure and temperature, and acts as a vehicle for the exchange of body chemicals with the mother.
Amniotic Fluid Mesenchymal Stem Cells (AFMSCs)
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) represent a population of multipotent stem cells able to differentiate towards mesoderm-derived lineages (i.e. adipogenic, chondrogenic, myogenic, and osteogenic) Initially they are identified in adult bone marrow, where they represent 0.01% of total nucleated cells, MSCs have since been isolated from several adult (e.g. adipose tissue, skeletal muscle, liver, brain), fetal (i.e. bone marrow, liver, blood), and extra-embryonic tissues (i.e. placenta, amnion).
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