Are serum-free and xeno-free culture conditions ideal for large scale clinical grade expansion of Wharton's jelly derived mesenchymal stem cells? A comparative study

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Abstract

© 2014 Swamynathan et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. Introduction. Mesenchymal stromal/stem cells (MSCs) for clinical use have largely been isolated from the bone marrow, although isolation of these cells from many different adult and fetal tissues has been reported as well. One such source of MSCs is the Whartons Jelly (WJ) of the umbilical cord, as it provides an inexhaustible source of stem cells for potential therapeutic use. Isolation of MSCs from the umbilical cord also presents little, if any, ethical concerns, and the process of obtaining the cord tissue is relatively simple with appropriate consent from the donor. However, a great majority of studies rely on the use of bovine serum containing medium for isolation and expansion of these cells, and porcine derived trypsin for dissociating the cells during passages, which may pose potential risks for using these cells in clinical applications. It is therefore of high priority to develop a robust production process by optimizing culture variables to efficiently and consistently generate MSCs that retain desired regenerative and differentiation properties while minimizing risk of disease transmission. Methods. We have established a complete xeno-free, serum-free culture condition for isolation, expansion and characterization of WJ-MSCs, to eliminate the use of animal components right from initiation of explant culture to clinical scale expansion and cryopreservation. Growth ki netics, in vitro differentiation capacities, immunosuppressive potential and immunophenotypic characterization of the cells expanded in serum-free media have been compared against those cultured under standard fetal bovine serum (FBS) containing medium. We have also compared the colony-forming frequency and genomic stability of the large scale expanded cells. Secretome analysis was performed to compare the angiogenic cytokines and functional angiogenic potency was proved by Matrigel assays. Results: Results presented in this report identify one such serum-free, xeno-free medium for WJ expansion. Cells cultured in serum-free, xeno-free medium exhibit superior growth kinetics and functional angiogenesis, alongside other MSC characteristics. Conclusions: We report here that WJ-MSCs cultured and expanded in Mesencult XF, SF Medium retain all necessary characteristics attributed to MSC for potential therapeutic use.

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Swamynathan, P., Venugopal, P., Kannan, S., Thej, C., Kolkundar, U., Bhagwat, S., … Balasubramanian, S. (2014). Are serum-free and xeno-free culture conditions ideal for large scale clinical grade expansion of Wharton’s jelly derived mesenchymal stem cells? A comparative study. Stem Cell Research and Therapy, 5(4). https://doi.org/10.1186/scrt477

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