When considering the viability, strength, and effectiveness of stem cells, the scientific community has traditionally used bone marrow stem cells (BMSCs) as the standard by which other cells are compared. Human umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stromal cells (hUCMSCs) are a cell line that is quickly gaining popularity in the field of musculoskeletal tissue engineering. These cells are collected from discarded tissue after birth, utilizing Wharton’s jelly to derive the benefit of fetal stem cells. The experiment described allowed the researchers to make a true side-by-side comparison of hBMSCs and hUCMSCs.
There are clear advantages to hUCMSCs over hBMSCs, not the least of which are their abundance, the fact that they are painless to collect, that harvesting them does not affect the donor, and that they demonstrate more rapid and long-lasting renewal properties.
After seeding the cells in a 3-D scaffold environment, the researchers measured such characteristics as cell proliferation and biosynthesis, as well as the unique property of stem cells to differentiate themselves. There was a resulting abundance of collagen produced by the hUSMSCs, pointing to the conclusion that they could be useful for fibrocartilage tissue engineering.
When you compare hBMSCs to hUSMSCs, it is clear that this is good news. While bone marrow cells are considered the criterion, their extraction is invasive to the host, and causes site morbidity and pain.
The clear advantage with uMCSCs is that they are extracted from the Wharton’s jelly of discarded umbilical cords. This procedure causes no one any pain, is not invasive and cannot cause site morbidity at the point of extraction.
Bone marrow cells are reliable producers of collagen and other building blocks essential in cellular renewal and regeneration; however, the necessary pain and morbidity caused by their extraction is problematic and should be avoided if possible. That is especially true if there is a safe, non-invasive alternative. Not only did the hUCSMCs produce collagen; their biosynthesis in this study was nearly three times that of the bone marrow cells’ production.
This study proved that hUCMSCs can be effective in the area of musculoskeletal engineering. The significance of this application is intriguing, with the possibility of renewing cartilage (and other musculoskeletal tissues). The production of the particular types of collagen pointed to their efficacy in generating cartilage tissue for knees of the mandible.
Based on all of the above criteria, and the fact that the hUCMSCs are harvested before “senescence,” or the necessary devaluation that comes with age, the researchers concluded without question that the mesenchymal cells are a tremendously valuable line for the production of cartilaginous tissue.