On the origin of amniotic stem cells: of mice and men
International Journal of Developmental Biology
A common characteristic of mammals is the development of extraembryonic supporting tissues and organs that are required for embryonic implantation, survival and development in utero. The amnion is the innermost extraembryonic membrane that eventually surrounds the fetus of amniotes, and contains the amniotic fluid. Next to its function in in utero development, the amnion has been shown to have an important potential for clinical applications. It is mainly used as a dressing to stimulate healing
... in skin and ocular wounds. Moreover, cells derived from the amniotic membrane and amniotic fluid have been reported to possess stem cell features, like pluripotent differentiation ability. Little is known about the early development of this membrane in humans. The mouse is a powerful genetic model organism that can be used to address the dynamics and the developmental origin of amnion and amnion-derived stem cells. Here, we discuss some fundamental differences in amnion development in the disc-shaped primate embryo and in the cup-shaped mouse embryo. We emphasize the consequences that this may have on the derivation of amniotic "stem" cells. After revision of the different isolation procedures of amniotic (fluid) derived "stem" cells from rodents, we reveal striking differences in the sources used to derive these cells across studies. The profound differences in the development of the extraembryonic membranes and cavities between primates and rodents may result in comparing cell types of different developmental origins, eventually leading to missinterpretations.