Amniotic fluid contains a large number of stem cells that can be extracted safely and non-invasively.


Amniotic fluid is a protective fluid that surrounds babies as they develop in the uterus of their mothers. It contains mesenchymal stem cells, which have the potential to develop into many different types of cells, including bone, liver, neurons, blood, heart, muscle and fat cells, in contrast to most mature cells that have a permanently badigned function . Therefore, they have great potential to treat diseases through cell therapy and regenerative medicine. Researchers at the University of Lund have developed a way to extract a large amount of them from the amniotic fluid that would otherwise be wasted.

Amniotic fluid surrounds the baby in the uterus, as seen on an ultrasound. Image credits: Nevit Dilmen.

Insurance for mother and child.

In a cesarean, the amniotic fluid is usually discarded. This method would make use of this fluid to extract the valuable stem cells. Millions of cesareans are performed every year so there is an abundant source of these stem cells.

"We show that with our device, we can collect up to one liter of amniotic fluid in cesarean deliveries at full term, the collection added an average of 90 seconds to the operation, and was safe for both mother and child" says badociate professor Andreas Herbst, lead clinician and author of the study.

The liquid is first collected in a sterile container that has been created with 3D printing and made of bio-inert plastics. Form a seal with the fetal cavity, allowing the soft collection of up to one liter of amniotic fluid. This technique is a non-invasive way to collect many stem cells, in contrast to the extraction of stem cells from the bone marrow. The fluid is then transported to the laboratory where it is purified by filtering with a gauze filter and a 100 micron filter. The stem cells are separated by centrifugation and cultured in cell cultures.

Video credits: University of Lund.

"Full-term amniotic fluid, which is readily available and an abundant source of tissue, may be the solution for cell therapy based on mesenchymal stem cells and applications of regenerative medicine," says Associate Professor Niels-Bjarne Woods.

Stem cells have already shown potential in the treatment of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and arthritis. and neurodegenerative disorders. However, they generally occur in low amounts in adult tissue and are difficult to extract. Now, this method can non-invasively extract large amounts of mesenchymal stem cells. The goal is to encourage clinics around the world to collect the stem cells of the amniotic fluid. Then, the bank available for patients who need it would be very large, which would increase the chances of genetic compatibility for those who need cell therapy.

Journal reference: Moraghebi, R., Kirkeby, A., Chaves, P., Rönn, RE, Sitnicka, E., Parmar, M., Larsson, M., Herbst, A. and Woods, N. -B. (2017) Amniotic fluid term: an untapped reserve of mesenchymal stromal cells for reprogramming and possible applications of cell therapy. Stem Cell Research {&} Therapy 8, 190.

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