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Amniotic fluid and placental stem cells.

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Harvard Medical School, Department of Surgery, Children's Hospital Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The amniotic fluid and the placenta are unique sources of different populations of stem cells--mesenchymal, hematopoietic, trophoblastic--and, possibly, of more primitive stem cells. Although much of the amniotic cavity/fluid and the placenta share a common embryonic origin, the specific origins of the stem cells found in these two compartments remain to be determined. Accordingly, it is not yet known whether all or part of these two stem-cell subsets are actually the same. The multilineage potential of the different stem cell populations from these two sources has begun to be described but still much remains to be learned. Thus, it is not surprising that clinical applications related to the use of these cells have yet to be reported. Nevertheless, fertile experimental work from many different groups has introduced a number of promising novel therapeutic concepts utilizing these cells, such as in tissue engineering, cell transplantation, and gene therapy.

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