Bone marrow mesenchymal stromal cells (BMMSCs) have been used as feeder support for the ex vivo expansion of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) but have the limitations of painful harvest, morbidity, and risk of infection to the patient. This prompted us to explore the use of human umbilical cord Wharton's jelly MSCs (hWJSCs) and its conditioned medium (hWJSC-CM) for ex vivo expansion of HSCs in allogeneic and autologous settings because hWJSCs can be harvested in abundance painlessly, are proliferative, hypoimmunogenic, and secrete a variety of unique proteins. In the presence of hWJSCs and hWJSC-CM, HSCs put out pseudopodia-like outgrowths and became highly motile. Time lapse imaging showed that the outgrowths helped them to migrate towards and attach to the upper surfaces of hWJSCs and undergo proliferation. After 9 days of culture in the presence of hWJSCs and hWJSC-CM, MTT, and Trypan blue assays showed significant increases in HSC numbers, and FACS analysis generated significantly greater numbers of CD34 þ cells compared to controls. hWJSC-CM produced the highest number of colonies (CFU assay) and all six classifications of colony morphology typical of hematopoiesis were observed. Proteomic analysis of hWJSC-CM showed significantly greater levels of interleukins (IL-1a, IL-6, IL-7, and IL-8), SCF, HGF, and ICAM-1 compared to controls suggesting that they may be involved in the HSC multiplication. We propose that cord blood banks freeze autologous hWJSCs and umbilical cord blood (UCB) from the same umbilical cord at the same time for the patient for future ex vivo HSC expansion and cell-based therapies.
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