The amniotic membrane (AM) and amniotic fluid (AF) have a long history of use in surgical and prenatal diagnostic applications,respectively. In addition, the discovery of cell populations in AM and AF which are widely accessible, nontumorigenic and capable of differentiating into a variety of cell types has stimulated a flurry of research aimed at characterizing the cells and evaluating their potential utility in regenerative medicine. While a major focus of research has been the use of amniotic membrane and fluid in tissue engineering and cell replacement, AM- and AF-derived cells may also have capabilities in protecting and stimulating the repair of injured tissues via paracrine actions, and acting as vectors for biodelivery of exogenous factors to treat injury and diseases. Much progress has been made since the discovery of AM and AF cells with stem cell characteristics nearly a decade ago, but there remain a number of problematic issues stemming from the inherent heterogeneity of these cells as well as inconsistencies in isolation and culturing methods which must be addressed to advance the field towards the development of cell-based therapies. Here, we provide an overview of the recent progress and future perspectives in the use of AM- and AF-derived cells for therapeutic applications.
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