Short review on human umbilical cord lining epithelial cells and their potential clinical applications

The richest source for umbilical cord-derived stem cells is the cord lining. Umbilical cords are collected from healthy women undergoing surgery and who have not been diagnosed with any infectious diseases like hepatitis, HIV, etc. The tissue is then cut into 2-cm segments, washed, disinfected with antibiotic mixture, and further cut into small squares of 0.5 cm for cell isolation by explant culture using specific media. The cord contains both mesenchymal and epithelial cells [ 5 , 9 ]. The epithelial cells are currently under investigation for their use in a wide range of applications from wound healing to ocular surface regeneration and much research is currently underway to explore the full potential of this multipotent cell population. Another unique cell type, coined mucin-expressing cord lining epithelial cells (CLECs-muc), has been isolated by Reza et al. [ 9 ]. These display higher colony-forming efficiency, proliferative potential, and passaging ability and express both embryonic and adult stem cell-specific genes. Similar to embryonic stem cells, they express OCT-4, NANOG, SSEA-4, REX1, and SOX2, to which their stem cell like properties can be attributed. While predominantly expressing the epithelial MUCIN1 and cytokeratins, they also express the mesenchymal stem cell surface marker CD166. Furthermore, they possess distinctive p63 expression profiles. Treatment of CLEC-muc cells with BMP4 results in their differentiation into precursor non-keratinized epithelial cell types via regulation of nuclear p63 gene expression. This...

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