Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) represent a promising tool for new clinical concepts in supporting cellular therapy. Bone marrow (BM) was the first source reported to contain MSC. However, for clinical use BM may be detrimental due to the highly invasive donation procedure and the decline in MSC number and differentiation potential with increasing age. More recently, umbilical cord blood (UCB), attainable by a less invasive method, was introduced as an alternative source for MSC. Another promising source is adipose tissue (AT). We compared MSC derived from these sources regarding morphology, the success rate to isolate MSC, colony-frequency,expansion potential, multiple differentiation capacity and immune phenotype.No significant differences concerning the morphology and immuno phenotype of the MSC derived from these sources were obvious. Differences could be observed concerning the success rate of isolating MSC, which was 100% for BM and AT, but only 63% for UCB. The colony-frequency was lowest from UCB whereas it was highest from AT. However, UCB-MSC could be cultured longest and showed the highest proliferation capacity, whereas BM-MSC possessed the shortest culture period and the lowest proliferation capacity. Most strikingly, UCB-MSC showed no adipogenic differentiation capacity, in contrast to BM- or AT-MSC.Both UCB and AT are attractive alternatives to BM in isolating MSC: AT as it contains MSC at highest frequency and UCB as it seems to be expandable to higher numbers.
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