Human amniotic fluid contains two morphologically-distinct sub-populations of stem cells with regenerative potential, spindle-shaped (SS-hAFSCs) and round-shaped human amniotic fluid stem cells (RS-hAFSCs). However, it is unclear whether morphological differences correlate with functionality, and this lack of knowledge limits their translational applications. Here, we show that SS-hAFSCs and RS-hAFSCs differ in their neuro-protective ability, demonstrating that a single contralateral injection of SS-hAFSCs into hypoxic-ischemic P7 mice conferred a 47% reduction in hippocampal tissue loss and 43-45% reduction in TUNEL-positive cells in the hippocampus and striatum 48 hours after the insult, decreased microglial activation and TGFβ1 levels, and prevented demyelination. On the other hand, RS-hAFSCs failed to show such neuro-protective effects. It is possible that SS-hAFSCs exert their neuroprotection via endoglin-dependent inhibition of TGFβ1 signaling in target cells. These findings identify a sub-population of CD117+CD90+CD105+stem cells as a promising source for the neuro-protection of the developing brain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2425
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2018


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