Novel immunomodulatory markers expressed by human WJ-MSC: An updated review in regenerative and reparative medicine

Giampiero la Rocca, Simona Corrao, Melania Lo Iacono, Tiziana Corsello, Felicia Farina, Rita Anzalone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Mesenchymal (stromal) stem cells (MSC) are a broad class of stromal populations which are able to differentiate towards mature cell types, and do express molecules involved in immune modulation, tolerance induction and inflammation dampening. MSC can be virtually isolated from each adult organ, as well as from foetus-associated perinatal tissues. In particular, Wharton's jelly-derived MSC (WJ-MSC) bear all of these key properties, together with their ease of sourcing and lack of ethical issues. Cellular therapy is a key technique in regenerative medicine approaches, in particular for the treatment of diseases in which physiological processes of cellular repopulation are blocked by the underlying pathological conditions. Recent data enlightened the ability of administered cells to act also in a repopulation-independent fashion in target organs, since their peculiar immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory features may favor organ self-repair by reactivating local progenitors by both cell-mediated or paracrine mechanisms. Translating classical regenerative medicine to "reparative medicine" or "support medicine" should represent a further therapeutic strategy independent from the differentiation capacity of MSC populations. Recent data further highlighted that WJ-MSC outperform BM-MSC (which are now being applied clinically) both in terms of immune modulation and lack of tumorigenesis (or tumor-promoting activities) in vivo. Starting from these premises, this paper analyzes the recent data on the biology of WJ-MSC, considering the role of both naïve and differentiated cells in immune modulation. In particular, the role of tolerance promoting pathways via non-classical B7 costimulators or class Ib MHC molecules are examined. In addition, we also analyzed the interconnections with other mechanicistic pathways (as those driven by matrix degrading metalloproteinases) in immune modulation. Our observations strongly support the notion that WJ-MSC may constitute a new tool in regenerative and reparative medicine applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-58
Number of pages9
JournalOpen Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Differentiation
  • Hypoimmunogenicity
  • Immune modulation
  • Inflammation
  • Matrix metalloproteinases
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Tissue repair
  • Umbilical cord
  • Wharton's jelly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology


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