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Methods Mol Biol. 2016;1427:319-45. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-3615-1_19.

The Use of Human Wharton's Jelly Cells for Cochlear Tissue Engineering.

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  • 1Department of Plastic Surgery, University of Kansas Medical Center, MS 3015, 3901 Rainbow Blvd., Kansas City, KS, 66160, USA.
  • 2Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering, University of Kansasr, 4149B Learned Hall, 1530 W. 15th St., Lawrence, KS, 66045, USA.
  • 3Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, University of Kansas Medical Center, MS 3010, 3901 Rainbow Blvd., Kansas City, KS, 66160, USA.


Tissue engineering focuses on three primary components: stem cells, biomaterials, and growth factors. Together, the combination of these components is used to regrow and repair damaged tissues that normally do not regenerate easily on their own. Much attention has been focused on the use of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), due to their broad differentiation potential. However, ESCs and iPSCs require very detailed protocols to differentiate into target tissues, which are not always successful. Furthermore, procurement of ESCs is considered ethically controversial in some regions and procurement of iPSCs requires laborious transformation of adult tissues and characterization. However, mesenchymal stem cells are an adult stem cell population that are not ethically controversial and are readily available for procurement. Furthermore, mesenchymal stem cells exhibit the ability to differentiate into a variety of cell types arising from the mesoderm. In particular, human Wharton's jelly cells (hWJCs) are mesenchymal-type stem cells found in umbilical cords that possess remarkable differentiation potential. hWJCs are a highly desirable stem cell population due to their abundance in supply, high proliferation rates, and ability to differentiate into multiple cell types arising from all three germ layers. hWJCs are used to generate several neurological phenotypes arising from the ectoderm and are considered for engineering mechanosensory hair cells found in the auditory complex. Here, we report the methods for isolating hWJCs from human umbilical cords and non-virally transfected for use in cochlear tissue engineering studies.


ATOH1; Characterization; Human Wharton’s jelly cells; Mesenchymal stem cells; Non-viral gene delivery; Nucleofection

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