Study of telomerase activity, proliferation and differentiation characteristics in umbilical cord blood mesenchymal stem cells

Document Type: Full paper (Original article)

Authors

1 Department of Biochemistry, School of Veterinary Medicine, Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran

2 Department of Stem Cells and Developmental Biology, Cell Science Research Center, Royan Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Technology, Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research (ACECR), Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Embryology, Cell Science Research Center, Royan Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Technology, Academic Center for Education, Culture and Research (ACECR), Tehran, Iran

4 Department of Anatomical Sciences, School of Medicine, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran

Abstract

In recent years, considerable advances have been made in the field of regenerative medicine. Unlike
embryonic stem cells, which pose the problems of ethical concerns and cause severe immunological reactions as well as neoplasma formation after transplantation, umbilical cord blood is a primitive source of
mesenchymal stem cells that covers the benefits of both embryonic and adult stem cells. It has been
determined that the proliferation capacity of cells is critically linked to the maintenance of the length of
telomeres by telomerase activity. Since there is no information accessible regarding the pattern of telomerase activity in UCB-MSCs through several passages, the aim of this study was the evaluation of telomerase activity in UCB-MSCs, as a predisposing factor for cell immortalization. No telomerase activity was detected
in UCB-MSCs from several passages applying telomerase rapid amplification protocol (TRAP). Since there
is a direct correlation between the activation of telomerase expression and neoplasma formation in adult
somatic cells, UCB can be assumed as an excellent source of MSCs for therapeutic application with a high
level of safety. According to the histological results, RT-PCR and biochemical assays, MSCs derived from
UCB showed high differentiation capacity to bone and cartilage. UCB-MSCs showed very low level of
differentiation potential to adipocytes. Our results showed that UCB-MSCs maintain their self-renewal and
differentiation potential through several passages. Since a large number of metabolically active cells must be available in cell therapy, high proliferation capacity through several passages is a great advantage for large scale expansion of UCB-MSCs.

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