MACS Handbook

Umbilical cord blood

1 Introduction

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have been isolated from several compartments of the umbilical cord, including umbilical cord blood, umbilical vein subendothelium, and Wharton’s jelly. Within Wharton’s jelly, MSCs have been isolated from three relatively indistinct regions: the perivascular zone, the intervascular zone and the subamnion. It is unknown whether MSCs isolated from the different compartments of the umbilical cord represent different populations (PMID: 17053211).

2 Cell types, frequencies, and marker expression

MSCs from umbilical cord blood and Wharton’s jelly cells (WJCs) have several properties in common, such as poor ability to differentiate to adipocytes (PMID: 17053211, 16410387, 15277708), shorter doubling times than bone marrow stem cells, and greater number of passages to senescence (PMID: 17053211, 16410387, 17332507, 17053209, 15277708).

MSCs from bone marrow, umbilical cord blood and Wharton’s jelly differ in isolation frequency of CFU-F. For bone marrow the frequency is estimated to be in the range of 1–10 CFU-F per 1´106 mononuclear cells (MNCs), whereas values reported for umbilical cord blood range from 1 CFU-F clones per 1´108 MNCs to 1–3 CFU-F per 1´106 MNCs (PMID: 15257936, 11760145). In contrast, cells derived from Wharton’s jelly exhibit a higher frequency (PMID: 17053211 ,15671145).

3 Sample preparation

At a glance: Kits and reagents for the preparation of umbilical cord samples
Tissue dissociationGentle and effective generation of single-cell suspensionUmbilical Cord Dissociation Kit, human

Human umbilical cord tissue can be dissociated into a single-cell suspension by combining mechanical dissociation with enzymatic degradation of the extracellular adhesion proteins that maintain the tissue structural integrity.

Using the Umbilical Cord Dissociation Kit, human is an efficient but gentle way to generate a single-cell suspension from human umbilical cord tissue. The kit was originally developed for the quality control of frozen umbilical cord samples in tissue banks based on the detection of MSCs by flow cytometry immediately after dissociation, without lengthy cultivation of cells. The umbilical cord is first soaked with enzymes that degrade the extracellular matrix. Single cells are freed from the extracellular matrix using the gentleMACS™ Dissociator, and any remaining particles are removed by filtration using MACS® SmartStrainers. Cells are processed immediately for downstream applications, such as cell culture, cell separation, or cell analysis.
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