Copyright ©The Author(s) 2015. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Stem Cells. May 26, 2015; 7(4): 769-775
Published online May 26, 2015. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v7.i4.769
Placental-derived stem cells: Culture, differentiation and challenges
Maira S Oliveira, João B Barreto-Filho
Maira S Oliveira, João B Barreto-Filho, College of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary School, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG 30161-970, Brazil
Maira S Oliveira, João B Barreto-Filho, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Universidade Federal de Lavras, Lavras, MG 37200-000, Brazil
Author contributions: Oliveira MS and Barreto-Filho JB both contributed to this paper.
Supported by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES), Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvmento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do estado de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG).
Conflict-of-interest: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Correspondence to: Maira S Oliveira, VMD, MSc, PhD, College of Veterinary Medicine, Veterinary School, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Av. Antonio Carlos, 6627, Caixa Postal 567, Belo Horizonte, MG 30161-970, Brazil.
Telephone: +55-31-34092000 Fax: +55-31-34092230
Received: October 13, 2014
Peer-review started: October 14, 2014
First decision: November 27, 2014
Revised: March 17, 2015
Accepted: April 10, 2015
Article in press: April 14, 2015
Published online: May 26, 2015

Stem cell therapy is a promising approach to clinical healing in several diseases. A great variety of tissues (bone marrow, adipose tissue, and placenta) are potentially sources of stem cells. Placenta-derived stem cells (p-SCs) are in between embryonic and mesenchymal stem cells, sharing characteristics with both, such as non-carcinogenic status and property to differentiate in all embryonic germ layers. Moreover, their use is not ethically restricted as fetal membranes are considered medical waste after birth. In this context, the present review will be focused on the biological properties, culture and potential cell therapy uses of placental-derived stem cells. Immunophenotype characterization, mainly for surface marker expression, and basic principles of p-SC isolation and culture (mechanical separation or enzymatic digestion of the tissues, the most used culture media, cell plating conditions) will be presented. In addition, some preclinical studies that were performed in different medical areas will be cited, focusing on neurological, liver, pancreatic, heart, muscle, pulmonary, and bone diseases and also in tissue engineering field. Finally, some challenges for stem cell therapy applications will be highlighted. The understanding of the mechanisms involved in the p-SCs differentiation and the achievement of pure cell populations (after differentiation) are key points that must be clarified before bringing the preclinical studies, performed at the bench, to the medical practice.

Keywords: Fetal membrane, Placenta, Embryonic stem cells, Mesenchymal stem cells, Cell therapy

Core tip: Fetal membranes are a source of stem cells, namely placenta-derived stem cells (p-SCs), which are in between embryonic and mesenchymal stem cells sharing characteristics with both, such as the capacity to differentiate in all germ layers and the dearth of tumorogenicity. Many preclinical studies have been investigated the potential of p-SC use in different medical areas, such as neurology, cardiology, orthopedics, gastroenterology, and tissue engineering, showing promising results, but also some drawbacks. The present review will focus on different aspects of biological properties and potential clinical uses of p-SCs.