Umbilical Cord Tissue Offers the Greatest Number of Harvestable Mesenchymal Stem Cells for Research and Clinical Application: A Literature Review of Different Harvest Sites


      Recent years have seen dramatic increases in the techniques used to harvest and isolate human mesenchymal stem cells. As the potential therapeutic aspects of these cells further develop, informative data on the differences in yields between tissue harvest sites and methods will become increasingly valuable. We collected and compared data on cell yields from multiple tissue harvest sites to provide insight into the varying levels of mesenchymal stem cells by tissue and offer primary and alternative tissue types for harvest and clinical application.


      The PubMed and Medline databases were searched for articles relating to the harvest, isolation, and quantification of human mesenchymal stem cells. Selected articles were analyzed for relevant data, which were categorized according to tissue site and, if possible, standardized to facilitate comparison between sites.


      Human mesenchymal stem cell levels in tissue varied widely according to tissue site and harvest method. Yields for adipose tissue ranged from 4,737 cells/mL of tissue to 1,550,000 cells/mL of tissue. Yields for bone marrow ranged from 1 to 30 cells/mL to 317,400 cells/mL. Yields for umbilical cord tissue ranged from 10,000 cells/mL to 4,700,000 cells/cm of umbilical cord. Secondary tissue harvest sites such as placental tissue and synovium yielded results ranging from 1,000 cells/mL to 30,000 cells/mL.


      Variations in allogeneic mesenchymal stem cell harvest levels from human tissues reflect the evolving nature of the field, patient demographic characteristics, and differences in harvest and isolation techniques. At present, Wharton's jelly tissue yields the highest concentration of allogeneic mesenchymal stem cells whereas adipose tissue yields the highest levels of autologous mesenchymal stem cells per milliliter of tissue.

      Clinical Relevance

      This comparison of stem cell levels from the literature offers a primer and guide for harvesting mesenchymal stem cells. Larger mesenchymal stem cell yields are more desirable for research and clinical application.
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