Published online Nov 26, 2019. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v11.i11.1005
Peer-review started: April 4, 2019
First decision: June 6, 2019
Revised: July 17, 2019
Accepted: September 4, 2019
Article in press: September 4, 2019
Published online: November 26, 2019
Mesenchymal stem cells are pluripotent cells that have the ability to generate cells from a cell line or in other cell types from different tissues but from the same origin. Although those cells have more limited differentiation capacity than embryonic stem cells, they are easily obtained from somatic tissue and can be grown in large quantities. This characteristic of undifferentiated stem cells differentiating into different cell lines arouses strategies in regenerative medicine for the treatment of different diseases such as neurodegenerative diseases.
To evaluate the cell differentiation capacity of human breastmilk stem cells for the three germ layers by a systematic review.
The searched databases were PubMed, EMBASE, OVID, and COCHRANE LIBRARY, published between 2007 and 2018 in the English language. All were in vitro studies for analysis of the "cell differentiation potential" in the literature using the keywords “human breastmilk,” “stem cells,” and keywords combined with the Boolean operator “NOT” were used to exclude those articles that had the word “CANCER” and their respective synonyms, which were previously consulted according to medical subject heading terms. PRISMA 2009 guidelines were followed in this study.
A total of 315 titles and abstracts of articles were examined. From these, 21 were in common with more than one database, leaving 294 articles for analysis. Of that total, five publications met the inclusion criteria. When analyzing the publications, it was demonstrated that human breastmilk stem cells have a high cellular plasticity, exhibiting the ability to generate cells of all three germ layers, endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm, demonstrating their stemness. Those cells expressed the genes, TRA-1-60/81, octamer-binding transcription factor 4, and NANOG, of which NANOG, a critical regulator for self-renewal and maintenance, was the most highly expressed. Those cells have the ability to differentiate in vitro into adipocytes, chondrocytes, osteocytes, oligodendrocytes, astrocytes, and neurons as well hepatocytes, β-pancreatic cells, and cardiomyocytes.
Although the literature has been scarce, the pluripotentiality of these cells represents great potential for tissue engineering and cellular therapy. Further studies for safe clinical translation are needed.
Core tip: Human breastmilk stem cells present interesting features that make them an alternative source of stem cells, mainly because they do not require any invasive procedure to be obtained. The objective was to investigate the literature data on their ability to differentiate into other cell lines. It was possible to verify that these cells have a high capacity of differentiation, as they are able to generate cells of the endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm lineages. However, the number of publications on the subject is still scarce, demonstrating that this source needs more studies and has the potential to be explored in regenerative medicine.