Umbilical cord tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells grow best under GMP-compliant culture conditions and maintain their phenotypic and functional properties

Author(s): Hartmann I, Hollweck T, Haffner S, Krebs M, Meiser B, et al.

Abstract

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are fibroblast-like multipotent stem cells that can differentiate into cell types of mesenchymal origin. Because of their immune properties and differentiation, potential MSCs are discussed for the use in tissue regeneration and tolerance induction in transplant medicine. This cell type can easily be obtained from the umbilical cord tissue (UCMSC) without medical intervention. Standard culture conditions include fetal bovine serum (FBS) which may not be approved for clinical settings. Here, we analyzed the phenotypic and functional properties of UCMSC under xeno-free (XF, containing GMP-certified human serum) and serum-free (SF) culture conditions in comparison with standard UCMSC cultures. Phenotypically, UCMSC showed no differences in the expression of mesenchymal markers or differentiation capacity. Functionally, XF and SF-cultured UCMSC have comparable adipogenic, osteogenic, and endothelial differentiation potential. Interestingly, the UCMSC-mediated suppression of T cell proliferation in an allogeneic mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) is more effective in XF and SF media than in standard FBS-containing cultures. Regarding the mechanism of action of MLR suppression, transwell experiments revealed that in neither UCMSC culture a direct cell-cell contact is necessary for inhibiting T cell proliferation, and that the major effector molecule is prostaglandin E₂ (PGE₂). Taken together, GMP-compliant growth media qualify for long-term cultures of UCMSC which is important for a future clinical study design in regenerative and transplant medicine.

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