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Stem Cell Rev. 2012 Mar;8(1):195-209. doi: 10.1007/s12015-011-9289-8.

Human umbilical cord Wharton's jelly stem cells undergo enhanced chondrogenic differentiation when grown on nanofibrous scaffolds and in a sequential two-stage culture medium environment.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Kent Ridge, Singapore.


The current treatments used for osteoarthritis from cartilage damage have their disadvantages of donor site morbidity, complicated surgical interventions and risks of infection and graft rejection. Recent advances in tissue engineering have offered much promise in cartilage repair but the best cell source and in vitro system have not as yet been optimised. Human bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (hBMSCs) have thus far been the cell of choice. However, we derived a unique stem cell from the human umbilical cord Wharton's jelly (hWJSC) that has properties superior to hBMSCs in terms of ready availability, prolonged stemness characteristics in vitro, high proliferation rates, wide multipotency, non-tumorigenicity and tolerance in allogeneic transplantation. We observed enhanced cell attachment, cell proliferation and chondrogenesis of hWJSCs over hBMSCs when grown on PCL/Collagen nanoscaffolds in the presence of a two-stage sequential complex/chondrogenic medium for 21 days. Improvement of these three parameters were confirmed via inverted optics, field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM), MTT assay, pellet diameters, Alcian blue histology and staining, glycosaminglycans (GAG) and hyaluronic acid production and expression of key chondrogenic genes (SOX9, Collagen type II, COMP, FMOD) using immunohistochemistry and real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). In separate experiments we demonstrated that the 16 ng/ml of basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) present in the complex medium may have contributed to driving chondrogenesis. We conclude that hWJSCs are an attractive stem cell source for inducing chondrogenesis in vitro when grown on nanoscaffolds and exposed sequentially first to complex medium and then followed by chondrogenic medium.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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