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Chorion, amnion and villi are reservoirs of mesenchymal stromal cells (StC) and the hypothesis that StC from fetal tissues retain higher plasticity compared to adult StC has been suggested. Aimed at investigating this aspect, a series of in vitro experiments were performed with StC isolated from first trimester human chorionic villi (CVStC). CVStC were cultured in: (i) standard mesenchymal medium (MM) and (ii) AmniomaxII® (AM), specifically designed to grow amnion-derived cells in prenatal diagnostic procedures. Cells were then exposed to distinct differentiation treatments and distinguished according to morphology, immunophenotype and molecular markers. Human StC obtained from adult bone marrow (BMStC) were used as control. CVStC cultured either in MM or AM presented stromal morphology and immunophenotype, were negative for pluripotency factors (Nanog, Oct-4 and Sox-2), lacked detectable telomerase activity and retained high genomic stability. In AM, however, CVStC exhibited a faster proliferation rate compared to BMStC or CVStC kept in MM. During differentiation, CVStC were less efficient than BMStC in acquiring adipocytes and osteocytes features; the cardiomyogenic conversion occurred at low efficiency in both cell types. Remarkably, in the presence of pro-angiogenic factors, CVStC reprogrammed toward an endothelial-like phenotype at significantly higher efficiency than BMStC. This effect was particularly evident in CVStC expanded in AM. Mechanistically, the reduced CVStC expression of anti-angiogenic microRNA could support this process. The present study demonstrates that, despite of fetal origin, CVStC exhibit restricted plasticity, distinct from that of BMStC and predominantly directed toward the endothelial lineage.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





260 - 270


Bone Marrow, Cell Differentiation, Cell Lineage, Cell Proliferation, Chorionic Villi, Culture Media, Endothelium, Genomic Instability, Homeodomain Proteins, Humans, Mesenchymal Stem Cells, Nanog Homeobox Protein, Octamer Transcription Factor-3, SOXB1 Transcription Factors, Telomerase