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Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can not only support the expansion of hematopoietic stem cells in vitro, but also alleviate complications and accelerate recovery of hematopoiesis during hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. However, it proved challenging to culture MSCs from umbilical cord blood (UCB) with a success rate of 20-30%. Many cell culture parameters contribute to this outcome and hence optimization of culture conditions is critical to increase the probability of success. In this work, fractional factorial design was applied to study the effect of cell inoculated density, combination and dose of cytokines, and presence of serum and stromal cells. The cultured UCB-MSC-like cells were characterized by flow cytometry and their multilineage differentiation potentials were tested. The optimal protocol was identified achieving above 90% successful outcome: 2 x 10(6) cells/mL mononuclear cells inoculated in Iscove's modified Dulbecco's medium supplied with 10% FBS, 15 ng/mL IL-3, and 5 ng/mL Granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). Moreover, the UCB-MSC-like cells expressed MSC surface markers of CD13, CD29, CD105, CD166, and CD44 positively, and CD34, CD45, and human leukocyte antigens-DR (HLA-DR) negatively. Meanwhile, these cells could differentiate into osteoblasts, chondrocytes, and adipocytes similarly to MSCs derived from bone marrow. In conclusion, we have developed an efficient protocol for the primary culture of UCB-MSCs by adding suitable cytokines into the culture system.

Original publication




Journal article


Biotechnol Prog

Publication Date





499 - 507


Cell Culture Techniques, Cell Differentiation, Cell Lineage, Cell Proliferation, Cells, Cultured, Culture Media, Cytokines, Female, Fetal Blood, Humans, Membrane Proteins, Mesenchymal Stem Cells