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Comparative Characterization of Cultured Human Term Amnion Epithelial and Mesenchymal Stromal Cells for Application in Cell Therapy

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Emerging evidence suggests human amnion tissue as a valuable source of two distinct types of pluripotent cells, amnion epithelial cells (hAECs) and mesenchymal stromal cells (hAMSCs), for applications in cell replacement therapy. For some approaches, it may be necessary to culture and differentiate these cells before they can be transplanted. No systematic attempt has been yet made to determine the quantity and quality of amnion cells after isolation and culture. We looked at amnion cell isolates from 27 term placentas. Following our optimized protocol, primary yields were 6.3 × 106 hAECs and 1.7 × 106 hAMSCs per gram amnion. All 27 cases gave vital cultures of hAMSCs, while one third of cases (9 of 27) failed to give adherent cultures of hAECs. Primary cultures contained significantly more proliferating than apoptotic cells (hAECs: 16.4% vs. 4.0%; hAMSCs: 9.5% vs. 2.4%). Neither hAECs nor hAMSCs were clonogenic. They showed slow proliferation that almost stopped beyond passage 5. Microscopic follow-up revealed that hAEC morphology gradually changed towards mesenchymal phenotype over several passages. Flow cytometric characterization of primary cultures showed expression of mesenchymal progenitor markers CD73, CD90, CD105, and CD166, as well as the embryonic stem cell markers SSEA-3 and -4 on both amnion cell types. These profiles were grossly maintained in secondary cultures. Reverse transcriptase-PCR analysis exhibited transcripts of Oct-3/4 and stem cell factor in primary and secondary cultures of all cases, but no telomerase reverse transcriptase. Immunocytochemistry confirmed translation into Oct-3/4 protein in part of hAEC cultures, but not in hAMSCs. Further, both amnion cell types stained for CD90 and SSEA-4. Osteogenic induction studies with amnion cells from four cases showed significantly stronger differentiation of hAECs than hAMSCs; this capacity to differentiate greatly varied between cases. In conclusion, hAECs and hAMSCs in culture exhibit and maintain a similar marker profile of mesenchymal progenitors. hAECs were found as a less reliable source than hAMSCs and altered morphology during subculture.
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Keywords: Cell transplantation; Culture; Human amnion epithelial cells; Human amnion mesenchymal cells; Stemness markers

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-08-01

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  • Cell Transplantation publishes original, peer-reviewed research and review articles on the subject of cell transplantation and its application to human diseases. To ensure high-quality contributions from all areas of transplantation, separate section editors and editorial boards have been established. Articles deal with a wide range of topics including physiological, medical, preclinical, tissue engineering, and device-oriented aspects of transplantation of nervous system, endocrine, growth factor-secreting, bone marrow, epithelial, endothelial, and genetically engineered cells, among others. Basic clinical studies and immunological research papers are also featured. To provide complete coverage of this revolutionary field, Cell Transplantation will report on relevant technological advances, and ethical and regulatory considerations of cell transplants. Cell Transplantation is now an Open Access journal starting with volume 18 in 2009, and therefore there will be an inexpensive publication charge, which is dependent on the number of pages, in addition to the charge for color figures. This will allow work to be disseminated to a wider audience and also entitle the corresponding author to a free PDF, as well as prepublication of an unedited version of the manuscript.

    Cell Transplantation is now being published by SAGE. Please visit their website for the most recent issues.

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