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Placenta. 2017 Nov;59:107-112. doi: 10.1016/j.placenta.2017.05.010. Epub 2017 May 18.

Potential clinical applications of placental stem cells for use in fetal therapy of birth defects.

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Department of Surgery, University of California, Davis Health Systems, Sacramento, CA, United States.
Department of Surgery, University of California, Davis Health Systems, Sacramento, CA, United States. Electronic address:


Placental stem cells are of growing interest for a variety of clinical applications due to their multipotency and ready availability from otherwise frequently discarded biomaterial. Stem cells derived from the placenta have been investigated in a number of disease processes, including wound healing, ischemic heart disease, autoimmune disorders, and chronic lung or liver injury. Fetal intervention for structural congenital defects, such as spina bifida, has rapidly progressed as a field due to advances in maternal-fetal medicine and improving surgical techniques. In utero treatment of structural, as well as non-structural, congenital disorders with cell-based therapies is of particular interest given the immunologic immaturity and immunotolerant environment of the developing fetus. A comprehensive literature review was performed to assess the potential utilization of placenta-derived stem cells for in utero treatment of congenital disorders. Most studies are still in the preclinical phase, utilizing animal models of common congenital disorders. Future research endeavors may include autologous transplantation, gene transfers, induced pluripotent stem cells, or cell-free therapies derived from the stem cell secretome. Though much work still needs to be done, placental stem cells are a promising therapeutic agent for fetal intervention for congenital disease.


Birth defect; Congenital anomaly; Fetal surgery; In utero transplantation; Placental stem cell

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