Discarded Wharton jelly of the human umbilical cord: a viable source for mesenchymal stromal cells

Cytotherapy. 2015 Jan;17(1):18-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jcyt.2014.08.009. Epub 2014 Oct 18.


Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) are multi-potent cells that have the capability of differentiating into adipogenic, osteogenic, chondrogenic and neural cells. With these multiple capabilities, MSCs have been highly regarded as an effective transplantable cell source for regenerative medicine. A large bank of these cells can be found in several regions of the human umbilical cord, including the umbilical cord lining, the subendothelial layer, the perivascular zone and, most important, in Wharton jelly (WJ). These cells, all umbilical cord-derived MSCs, are durable, have large loading capacities and are considered ethical to harvest because the umbilical cord is often considered waste. These logistical advantages make WJ as appealing source of stem cells for transplant therapy. In particular, WJ is a predominantly good source of cells because MSCs in WJ are maintained in an early embryologic phase and therefore have retained some of the primitive stemness properties. WJ-MSCs can easily differentiate into a plethora of cell types leading to a variety of applications. In addition, WJ-MSCs are slightly easier to harvest compared with other MSCs (such as bone marrow-derived MSCs). The fascinating stemness properties and therapeutic potential of WJ-MSCs provide great promise in many aspects of regenerative medicine and should be considered for further investigations as safe and effective donor cells for transplantation therapy in many debilitating disorders, which are discussed here. We previously reviewed the therapeutic potential of WJ-MSCs and now provide an update on their recent preclinical and clinical applications.

Keywords: MSCs; differentiation; multi-potent cells; proliferation; transplantation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Umbilical Cord / cytology*
  • Wharton Jelly / cytology*