Turning placenta into brain: placental mesenchymal stem cells differentiate into neurons and oligodendrocytes

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Mar;202(3):294.e1-294.e11. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2009.10.893. Epub 2010 Jan 8.


Objective: We aimed to induce neural stem (NSC) and progenitor cells (NPC) from human placental tissues.

Study design: Placental stem cells from first-trimester placental chorionic villi and term chorion were isolated. Neural differentiation was initiated with plating on collagen, retinoic acid, and/or human brain-derived neurotrophic factor and epidermal and fibroblast growth factor. Differentiation into neurons, oligodendrocytes, and astrocytes was monitored by immunohistochemistry. Two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, high-performance liquid chromatography, and tandem mass spectrometry were used to identify proteins involved in the differentiation.

Results: Differentiated cells were mostly immediately postmitotic with some more but not fully mature postmitotic neurons. Neurons had dopaminergic or serotonergic character. Some cells differentiated into predominantly immature oligodendrocytes. Upon differentiation, neuron-specific proteins were up-regulated, whereas placental proteins were reduced.

Conclusion: Stem cells derived from human placenta can be differentiated into neural progenitors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Mitosis
  • Muscle Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology*
  • Placenta / cytology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Tubulin / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation


  • DPYSL3 protein, human
  • Muscle Proteins
  • Tubulin