Two papers published in the current issue of Cell Transplantation (20:6), now freely available on-line at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/cog/ct/ , highlight the rich source of stem cells in human amniotic fluid that can be isolated and transplanted for therapeutic purposes.
Amniotic fluid a rich source of mesenchymal stromal cell
"Stem cells isolated from human amniotic fluid (AFSs) have the ability to differentiate into different cell types," said study corresponding author Dr. Cesar V. Borlongan, professor and vice chair for research in the University of South Florida's Department of Neurosurgery and Brain Repair. "Recent research has shown that amniotic fluid-derived stem cells show similarities to both embryonic and adult stem cells and can differentiate into many different kinds of cells."
The study authors determined that amniotic fluid-derived stem cells represent not only a promising source of stem cells for further research, but may also serve as a "customized cell supply" for the newly born. The cells have the capacity to be "banked" for transplantation in immunologically-matched recipients.
According to the authors, AFSs can give rise to adipogenic, osteogenic, myogenic, neurogenic and hepatic cell lineages. The cells, they said, are "intermediate between embryonic stem cells and adult stem cells."
"These cells have a high renewal capacity and can be expanded without loss of cellular integrity, such as a loss of chromosomal telomere length," explained Dr. Borlongan. "We need further investigations to fully explore the amniotic cells' potential for treating adult human disorders."
Transplanted human amnion epithelial cells reduce pulmonary fibrosis and enhance lung regeneration in animal models
A study carried out by a team of researchers in Australia has shown that epithelial cells derived from human amnion fluid (hAECs) are therapeutic when transplanted into laboratory mice modeling lung disease.
"Respiratory disease is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality," said corresponding author Dr. Euan M. Wallace, director of The Ritchie Centre, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Monash Medical Centre. "There is an urgent need for cell-based therapies to treat respiratory diseases, and the use of cells isolated from human term placenta for regenerative medicine holds great promise."
Because recent research has shown that stem cells derived from human placenta have multipotent differentiation properties, low immunogenicity, and anti-inflammatory functions, the researchers aimed to explore the mechanisms by which hAECs may help to repair pulmonary fibrosis and to determine if the hAECs were able to improve lung function in mouse models of lung injury.
The researchers injected hAECs into the animals' peritoneal cavity to determine if the cells would migrate to the lung, engraft, and form functional lung epithelium.
"We found that hAECs prevented a decline in pulmonary function," said Dr. Wallace. "However, we were unable to detect any significant engraftment of hAECs in injured or uninjured lung after administration."
According to Dr. Julio Voltarelli, professor of Clinical Medicine and Clinical Immunology at the University of Sao P-ulo, Brazil, and section editor for CELL TRANSPLANTATION, the versatility of human amniotic fluid derived stem cells is a relatively untapped resource which these studies suggest should be exploited.
"It will be interesting to determine how useful they can be in other animal models of disease and disorders and ultimately whether they have any clinical applications," he said.
Cell Transplantation Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair