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Published Online: 17 August 2020

Expanded Differentiation Capability of Human Wharton's Jelly Stem Cells Toward Pluripotency: A Systematic Review

Publication: Tissue Engineering Part B: Reviews
Volume 26, Issue Number 4


Human Wharton's jelly stem cells (HWJSC) can be efficiently isolated from the umbilical cord, and numerous reports have demonstrated that these cells can differentiate into several cell lineages. This fact, coupled with the high proliferation potential of HWJSC, makes them a promising source of stem cells for use in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. However, their real potentiality has not been established to date. In the present study, we carried out a systematic review to determine the multilineage differentiation potential of HWJSC. After a systematic literature search, we selected 32 publications focused on the differentiation potential of these cells. Analysis of these studies showed that HWJSC display expanded differentiation potential toward some cell types corresponding to all three embryonic cell layers (ectodermal, mesodermal, and endodermal), which is consistent with their constitutive expression of key pluripotency markers such as OCT4, SOX2, and NANOG, and the embryonic marker SSEA4. We conclude that HWJSC can be considered cells in an intermediate state between multipotentiality and pluripotentiality, since their proliferation capability is not unlimited and differentiation to all cell types has not been demonstrated thus far. These findings support the clinical use of HWJSC for the treatment of diseases affecting not only mesoderm-type tissues but also other cell lineages.

Impact statement

Human Wharton's jelly stem cells (HWJSC) are mesenchymal stem cells that are easy to isolate and handle, and that readily proliferate. Their wide range of differentiation capabilities supports the view that these cells can be considered pluripotent. Accordingly, HWJSC are one of the most promising cell sources for clinical applications in advanced therapies.

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Published In

cover image Tissue Engineering Part B: Reviews
Tissue Engineering Part B: Reviews
Volume 26Issue Number 4August 2020
Pages: 301 - 312
PubMed: 32085697


Published online: 17 August 2020
Published in print: August 2020
Published ahead of print: 20 March 2020
Published ahead of production: 21 February 2020
Accepted: 14 February 2020
Received: 25 September 2019


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Ingrid Garzon [email protected]
Tissue Engineering Group, Department of Histology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.
ibs.GRANADA, Biohealth Institute, Granada, Spain.
Jesus Chato-Astrain
Tissue Engineering Group, Department of Histology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.
ibs.GRANADA, Biohealth Institute, Granada, Spain.
Fernando Campos
Tissue Engineering Group, Department of Histology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.
ibs.GRANADA, Biohealth Institute, Granada, Spain.
Ricardo Fernandez-Valades
ibs.GRANADA, Biohealth Institute, Granada, Spain.
Division of Pediatric Surgery, University of Granada Hospital Complex, Granada, Spain.
Indalecio Sanchez-Montesinos
ibs.GRANADA, Biohealth Institute, Granada, Spain.
Department of Human Anatomy and Embryology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.
Antonio Campos
Tissue Engineering Group, Department of Histology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.
ibs.GRANADA, Biohealth Institute, Granada, Spain.
Miguel Alaminos
Tissue Engineering Group, Department of Histology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.
ibs.GRANADA, Biohealth Institute, Granada, Spain.
Rena N. D'Souza
Department of Dentistry, School of Dentistry, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
Miguel A. Martin-Piedra
Tissue Engineering Group, Department of Histology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, Granada, Spain.
ibs.GRANADA, Biohealth Institute, Granada, Spain.


Address correspondence to: Ingrid Garzon, OD, PhD, Tissue Engineering Group, Department of Histology, School of Medicine, University of Granada, Avenida de la Investigación 11, 5A, Granada 18071, Spain [email protected]

Disclosure Statement

No competing financial interests exist.

Funding Information

This study was supported by the Spanish Plan Nacional de Investigación Científica, Desarrollo e Innovación Tecnológica (I+D+I) of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Instituto de Salud Carlos III), grants FIS PI17/0391, PI18/331, and PI18/332 (cofinanced by ERDF-FEDER, European Union).

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