Epithelial cells are covering cells that line the body as skin, or are lining cells that form the innermost layer of hollow structures such as the intestines. Epithelial stem cells can be differentiated into any type of epithelial cell such as skin cells, corneal conjunctival cells, liver cells, oesophageal cells, intestinal lining cells, as well as cells of the lung, airways, and bladder. Nerve cells called neurons can also be differentiated from CLEC.
Cord Lining Epithelial Cells come from the upper layers of the cord lining and have been differentiated into:
1) Skin Cells, from which 3-dimensional skin (we call this organotypic skin equivalent) has been made Professor Andrew Burd and his team in Hong Kong have comprehensively characterised Cord Lining Epithelial Cells, clearly demonstrated their multipotent nature, and successfully constructed a three-dimensional organotypic skin equivalent.
Publication: Huang L, Wong Y-P, Gu H, et al. Stem cell-like properties of human umbilical cord lining epithelial cells and the potential for epidermal reconstitution. Cytotherapy. 2011; 13(2): 145-155.
The final paragraph of the paper states:
“In summary, the present study has demonstrated that CLEC share some of the characteristics of epithelial as well as pluripotent stem cells. The demonstration that these cells have stem cell-like properties and are capable of generating fully stratified epithelium provides support for their potential clinical application in epidermal reconstitution.”
2) Liver Cells, which will be a very useful laboratory drug discovery platform
These data have now been published and show that Cord Lining Stem Cells not only readily morph into liver cells, but that the process is also economical and comes from a source which is ethically acceptable.
Publication: Cheong HH, Masilamani J, Chan CYE, et al. Metabolically functional hepatocyte-like cells from human umbilical cord lining epithelial cells. Assay Drug Dev Technol. 2013 (March); 11(2): 130-138
3) Pancreatic Islet Cells, which produce insulin, the hormone lacking in patients with diabetes mellitus
These data have also been published in a paper that shows that Cord Lining Epithelial Cells, in addition to being successfully differentiated into pancreatic islet cells, also produce immunosuppressant HLA called HLA-G and HLA-E which prevent rejection of transplanted Cord Lining Epithelial Cells from the recipient of these cells.
Publication: Zhou Y, Gan SU, Lin G, et al. Characterization of human umbilical cord- lining derived epithelial cells and transplantation potential. Cell Transplantation. 2011; 20: 1827-1841