Amniotic fluid and placental membranes: Unexpected sources of highly multipotent cells

Sean V. Murphy, Anthony Atala

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In recent years, gestational tissue such as the placenta, placental membranes, umbilical cord, and amniotic fluid have been recognized as an untapped resource for the field of regenerative medicine. These tissues have been shown to be a rich source of multipotent and pluripotent stem cells with potent immunosuppressive properties that make these cells an exciting new tool for the treatment of disease [1–5]. Gestational tissue offers a considerable advantage as a stem-cell source over “traditional sources” such as bone marrow or embryo-derived cells. Such tissue is often discarded following birth so does not require an invasive biopsy or the destruction of a human embryo. This means that there are no ethical and legal considerations associated with their collection and use. Early investigation into gestational tissue-derived stem cells identified multipotent hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), stem cells from umbilical-cord blood [6]. HSCs have been shown to have important clinical applications for the treatment of blood-related disorders such as sickle cell disease, thalassemia, and leukemia. MSCs are currently being used in clinical trials for the treatment of various diseases such as graft vs. host disease and intervertebral disc disease. Recently, researchers have isolated and characterized highly multipotent cells from the amniotic fluid and placental membranes [1,2]. The highly multipotent and anti-inflammatory properties of these amniotic fluid-derived stem cells (AFSCs) suggest potential clinical applications of these cells to treat diseases including bone defects, lung disease, neurological disorders, kidney disease, and heart disease [7–11]. This chapter will focus on AFSCs isolated from the amniotic fluid and placental membranes, discussing their properties and potential clinical applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationStem Cells in Reproductive Medicine: Basic Science and Therapeutic Potential
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9781139540742, 9781107034471
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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