Background: Fetal membranes are tissues of particular interest for several reasons, including their role in preventing rejection of the fetus and their early embryologic origin. which may entail progenitor potential. The immunologic reactivity and the transplantation potential of amnion and chorion cells, however, remain to be elucidated.
Methods: Amnion and chorion cells were isolated from human term placenta and characterized by immunohistochemistry, flow cytometric analysis, and expression profile of relevant genes. The immunomodulatory characteristics of these cells were studied in allogeneic and xenogeneic mixed lymphocyte reactions and their engraftment potential analyzed by transplantation into neonatal swine and rats. Posttransplant chimerism was determined by polymerase chain reaction analysis with probes specific for human DNA.
Results: Phenotypic and gene expression studies indicated mesenchymal stem cell-like profiles in both amnion and chorion cells that were positive for neuronal, pulmonary, adhesion, and migration markers. In addition, cells isolated both from amnion and chorion did not induce allogeneic nor xenogeneic lymphocyte proliferation responses and were able to actively suppress lymphocyte responsiveness. Transplantation in neonatal swine and rats resulted in human microchimerism in various organs and tissues.
Conclusions: Human amnion and chorion cells from term placenta can successfully engraft neonatal swine and rats. These results may be explained by the peculiar immunologic characteristics and mesenchymal stem cell-like phenotype of these cells. These findings suggest that amnion and chorion cells may represent an advantageous source of progenitor cells with potential applications in a variety of cell therapy and transplantation procedures.