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Amino Acids. 2012 May;42(5):1591-6. doi: 10.1007/s00726-011-0929-8. Epub 2011 May 15.

Neurogenic differentiation of amniotic fluid stem cells.

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Institute of Medical Genetics, Medical University of Vienna, Währinger Strasse 10, 1090, Vienna, Austria.


In 2003, human amniotic fluid has been shown to contain stem cells expressing Oct-4, a marker for pluripotency. This finding initiated a rapidly growing and very promising new stem cell research field. Since then, amniotic fluid stem (AFS) cells have been demonstrated to harbour the potential to differentiate into any of the three germ layers and to form three-dimensional aggregates, so-called embryoid bodies, known as the principal step in the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells. Marker selection and minimal dilution approaches allow the establishment of monoclonal AFS cell lineages with high proliferation potential. AFS cells have a lower risk for tumour development and do not raise the ethical issues of embryonic stem cells. Compared to induced pluripotent stem cells, AFS cells do not need exogenic treatment to induce pluripotency, are chromosomal stable and do not harbour the epigenetic memory and accumulated somatic mutations of specific differentiated source cells. Compared to adult stem cells, AFS can be grown in larger quantities and show higher differentiation potential. Accordingly, in the recent past, AFS became increasingly accepted as an optimal tool for basic research and probably also for specific cell-based therapies. Here, we review the current knowledge on the neurogenic differentiation potential of AFS cells.

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