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What is the Difference Between Amniotic Fluid and Umbilical Cord Products?

What is the Difference Between Amniotic Fluid and Umbilical Cord Products?

Amniotic fluid and umbilical cord products both have many uses in regenerative medicine. These materials are known as “products of conception”, and come from tissues such as the amniotic fluid itself, the umbilical cord tissue, Wharton’s jelly, and the umbilical cord blood.


These stem cells show both the adult mesenchymal stromal cell markers like CD29, as well as embryonic stem cell markers like Oct-4 and SSEA-4. Due to this, they are considered to be within an intermediate stage between embryonic and adult stem cells, and this provides them with advantages over adult stem cells. These advantages include stronger proliferation capacity and multipotent differentiation capacity. 3

Amniotic Fluid Stem Cells


While both amniotic fluid stem cells and umbilical cord stem cells have amazing regenerative properties, they are very different. An advantage to using amniotic fluid, for example, is that it has enhanced plasticity. It also is not affected by differentiation stimuli, and they also have the ability to differentiate across all three germ layers. 2



Amniotic fluid is heterogeneous, and also has multiple differentiated cell types that exhibit progenitor variation. While amniotic fluid has the typical mesenchymal markers, they also have integrin VLA5 and the endothelial markers CD44 and CD58. They do not have, however, the hematopoietic markers CD 45, CD 34, and CD14, and they also don’t have myogenic markers. 1


When compared to both bone marrow and umbilical cord blood stem cells, amniotic fluid stem cells have shown up to an eightfold difference in terms of expansion capacity. They also have shown a doubling time averaging at 18 h. They have demonstrated an extremely high proliferation rate as well as a stable karyotype. 1


Umbilical Cord Stem Cells


Umbilical cord stem cells have been a popular source of both progenitor and hematopoietic stem cells for years. The cells within umbilical cords, particularly umbilical cord blood, is unique as they more closely are related to embryonic stem cells. They possess Oct-4, which improves pluripotency and self-renewal. They also have the embryonic markers SSEA-3, SSEA-4 Tra 1-60, TRA 1-81, and Nanog. Like Amniotic fluid stem cells, they also can differentiate across all three germ layers. 1


Wharton’s jelly stem cells are collected from the outer region of the umbilical cord. These stem cells can differentiate into osteogenic and chondrogenic cells, glia and neurons, cardiomyocytes, adipocytes and dopaminergic neurons. They have shown promise in studies related to Parkinson’s. Wharton’s jelly stem cells have also been shown to have enhanced muscle regeneration features in studies on mice that have severe muscle damage. 1


Ethics and Notes About Both Amniotic Fluid Products and Umbilical Cord Products

Both amniotic fluid and umbilical cord products are collected after birth, providing an entirely noninvasive collection procedure. The one advantage to amniotic cells is that they can be potentially tested prior to birth. A needle can be used in conjunction with ultrasound in order to collect some of the fluid to test the baby’s genetic health before birth. In any case, they are completely ethically acquired, and despite popular myth, they are not collected from aborted fetuses.



While studies on both of these products are constantly evolving, there is an extreme promise for both types of stem cells. Both are very regenerative and have great differentiation capacities.

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