Umbilical cord mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) isolated from Wharton's jelly make up a highly homogeneous population of cells, a unique feature of somatic stem cell populations. It has been shown that umbilical cord MSCs differentiate into several lineages, including adipose cells, chondrocytes, osteoblasts, neuronal cells, endothelial cells, cardiomyocytes, hepatocyte-like and pancreatic beta cells. These MSCs are prevalent in the Wharton's jelly, and can be isolated in large quantities, at approximately ~1.5 million cells per centimeter of the umbilical cord.
Umbilical cord MSCs exhibit telomerase activity, which is found in human embryonic stem cells. High telomerase activity is correlated with an early stage of differentiation and a high level of division activity in the cells. Hence, umbilical cord MSCs may have the capability to undergo many cellular divisions exemplify multipotent or even pluripotent stem cells.
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