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Gene Expression Profile of Mesenchymal Stem Cells from Paired Umbilical Cord Units: Cord is Different from Blood


Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) are multipotent cells which can be obtained from several adult and fetal tissues including human umbilical cord units. We have recently shown that umbilical cord tissue (UC) is richer in MSC than umbilical cord blood (UCB) but their origin and characteristics in blood as compared to the cord remains unknown. Here we compared, for the first time, the exonic protein-coding and intronic noncoding RNA (ncRNA) expression profiles of MSC from match-paired UC and UCB samples, harvested from the same donors, processed simultaneously and under the same culture conditions. The patterns of intronic ncRNA expression in MSC from UC and UCB paired units were highly similar, indicative of their common donor origin. The respective exonic protein-coding transcript expression profiles, however, were significantly different. Hierarchical clustering based on protein-coding expression similarities grouped MSC according to their tissue location rather than original donor. Genes related to systems development, osteogenesis and immune system were expressed at higher levels in UCB, whereas genes related to cell adhesion, morphogenesis, secretion, angiogenesis and neurogenesis were more expressed in UC cells. These molecular differences verified in tissue-specific MSC gene expression may reflect functional activities influenced by distinct niches and should be considered when developing clinical protocols involving MSC from different sources. In addition, these findings reinforce our previous suggestion on the importance of banking the whole umbilical cord unit for research or future therapeutic use.

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