New Stem Cell Clues As to Why Mother Does Not Reject “Foreign” Fetus

Stem cells derived from human amnion have for some time been considered promising for cell therapies because of their ease of access, ability to differentiate, and absence of ethical issues. Now, a Japanese research team from the University of Toyama and the University of Ryukyus has found that stem cells derived from human female amnion also have immunosuppressive activity and that the addition of antibodies to specific factors can enhance their immunosuppressive potential. The study will be published in a future issue of Cell Transplantation and was made freely available online on October 20, 2014 as an unedited early e-pub at: The amniotic membrane is a tissue of fetal origin comprised of three layers. It is thought that there is a special immunologic mechanism protecting the fetus, so researchers were interested in finding out what immunological properties might reside in - and be extractable from - amnion cells. "The human amniotic membrane contains both epithelial cells and mesenchymal cells," said study co-author Dr. Toshio Nikaido, Department of Regenerative Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Toyama in Toyoma, Japan. "Both kinds of cells have proliferation and differentiation characteristics, making the amniotic membrane a promising and attractive source for amnion-derived cells for transplantation in regenerative medicine. It is clear that these cells have promise, although the mechanism of their immune modulation remains to be elucidated." In this study, amnion-derived cells exerted an inhibitory effect on natural killer (NK) cells and induced white blood cell activation.
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