Multipotent mesenchymal stromal cells, also known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), can be isolated from bone marrow or other tissues, including fat, muscle and umbilical cord. It has been shown that MSC behave in vitro as stem cells: they self-renew and are able to differentiate into mature cells typical of several mesenchymal tissues. Moreover, the differentiation toward non-mesenchymal cell lineages (e.g. neurons) has been reported as well. The clinical relevance of these cells is mainly related to their ability to spontaneously migrate to the site of inflammation/damage, to their safety profile thanks to their low immunogenicity and to their immunomodulation capacities. To date, MSCs isolated from the post-natal bone marrow have represented the most extensively studied population of adult MSCs, in view of their possible use in various therapeutical applications. However, the bone marrow-derived MSCs exhibit a series of limitations, mainly related to their problematic isolation, culturing and use. In recent years, umbilical cord (UC) matrix (i.e. Wharton's jelly, WJ) stromal cells have therefore emerged as a more suitable alternative source of MSCs, thanks to their primitive nature and the easy isolation without relevant ethical concerns. This review seeks to provide an overview of the main biological properties of WJ-derived MSCs. Moreover, the potential application of these cells for the treatment of some known dysfunctions in the central and peripheral nervous system will also be discussed.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Mesenchymal stem cells
- Neural differentiation
- Peripheral nerve regeneration
- Wharton's jelly
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology