Placental-derived stem cells: Culture, differentiation and challenges

World J Stem Cells. 2015 May 26;7(4):769-75. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v7.i4.769.


Stem cell therapy is a promising approach to clinical healing in several diseases. A great variety of tissues (bone marrow, adipose tissue, and placenta) are potentially sources of stem cells. Placenta-derived stem cells (p-SCs) are in between embryonic and mesenchymal stem cells, sharing characteristics with both, such as non-carcinogenic status and property to differentiate in all embryonic germ layers. Moreover, their use is not ethically restricted as fetal membranes are considered medical waste after birth. In this context, the present review will be focused on the biological properties, culture and potential cell therapy uses of placental-derived stem cells. Immunophenotype characterization, mainly for surface marker expression, and basic principles of p-SC isolation and culture (mechanical separation or enzymatic digestion of the tissues, the most used culture media, cell plating conditions) will be presented. In addition, some preclinical studies that were performed in different medical areas will be cited, focusing on neurological, liver, pancreatic, heart, muscle, pulmonary, and bone diseases and also in tissue engineering field. Finally, some challenges for stem cell therapy applications will be highlighted. The understanding of the mechanisms involved in the p-SCs differentiation and the achievement of pure cell populations (after differentiation) are key points that must be clarified before bringing the preclinical studies, performed at the bench, to the medical practice.

Keywords: Cell therapy; Embryonic stem cells; Fetal membrane; Mesenchymal stem cells; Placenta.

Publication types

  • Review