Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) are promising candidates for allogeneic “off-the-shelf” cellular therapy because they preferentially migrate to sites of inflammation and injury and can be transplanted into patients without the need for immune suppression. MSC populations retain a ‘memory of tissue origin’ resulting in different functional abilities, suggesting differences in MSC populations between different sources. Therefore, understanding the functional abilities of MSC between tissue sources may be important for the development of future therapeutic applications.
The term placenta has been proposed as an ideal source for MSC as it consists of fetal (amnion and chorionic membranes) and maternal (decidua) tissues that are rich in MSC. Fetal-derived MSC may have different biological properties from maternal MSC, given differences in age at the time of their development, and these may have implications in the potential use of MSC as therapeutic agents. Therefore, the aim of this study was to isolate fetal derived MSC and compare these to maternal derived MSC from the term placenta to determine their characteristics and functional capabilities.
Fetal (amniotic membrane) and maternal (decidua) MSC derived from the human term placenta were isolated and compared for a range of cellular and molecular properties including their cell surface phenotype, mesodermal differentiation capacity, ability to suppress T cell alloproliferation and their transcriptomic profiles. Amnion, chorion and decidua MSC showed an adherent, fibroblast-like morphology and exhibited typical MSC phenotype and immune suppressive ability. However, differences in their cell proliferation and differentiation ability were observed and functional pathways and markers were identified that may discriminate between the fetal and maternal MSC populations. These findings provide further evidence that both fetal and maternal MSC populations exhibited unique functional characteristics that are reflective of their tissue source. It remains to be determined if fetal MSC show greater therapeutic ability than maternal MSC.