Effects of maternal obesity on Wharton's Jelly mesenchymal stromal cells

Sci Rep. 2017 Dec 14;7(1):17595. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-18034-1.


We investigated whether maternal metabolic environment affects mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSCs) from umbilical cord's Wharton's Jelly (WJ) on a molecular level, and potentially render them unsuitable for clinical use in multiple recipients. In this pilot study on umbilical cords post partum from healthy non-obese (BMI = 19-25; n = 7) and obese (BMI ≥ 30; n = 7) donors undergoing elective Cesarean section, we found that WJ MSC from obese donors showed slower population doubling and a stronger immunosuppressive activity. Genome-wide DNA methylation of triple positive (CD73+CD90+CD105+) WJ MSCs found 67 genes with at least one CpG site where the methylation difference was ≥0.2 in four or more obese donors. Only one gene, PNPLA7, demonstrated significant difference on methylome, transcriptome and protein level. Although the number of analysed donors is limited, our data suggest that the altered metabolic environment related to excessive body weight might bear consequences on the WJ MSCs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • CD56 Antigen / metabolism
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cell Differentiation
  • DNA Methylation
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation
  • Lipase / genetics
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Mothers*
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / immunology
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Obesity / pathology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pregnancy
  • Wharton Jelly / pathology*


  • CD56 Antigen
  • Lipase
  • PNPLA7 protein, human