Genomic alterations in human umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stromal cells call for stringent quality control before any possible therapeutic approach

Alessandro Borghesi*, Maria Antonietta Avanzini, Francesca Novara, Melissa Mantelli, Elisa Lenta, Valentina Achille, Rosa Maria Cerbo, Chryssoula Tzialla, Stefania Longo, Annalisa De Silvestri, Luc J. I. Zimmermann, Paolo Manzoni, Marco Zecca, Arsenio Spinillo, Rita Maccario, Orsetta Zuffardi, Mauro Stronati

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background aims. The umbilical cord (UC) is a promising source of mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs). UC-MSCs display very similar in vitro characteristics to bone marrow MSCs and could represent a valuable alternative for cell-based therapies. However, it is still unclear whether UC-MSCs are prone or not to the acquisition of genomic imbalances during in vitro expansion. Methods. With the use of array-comparative genomic hybridization, we compared copy number variations of early (P2-P3) and late (>P5) passages of in vitro expanded UC-MSCs. Results. In two of 11 long-term UC-MSCs cultures, we observed the appearance of clones carrying genomic imbalances, which generated genetic mosaicism at intermediate passages. Although still able to reach the senescence phase, the cells carrying the genomic imbalance acquired a proliferative advantage, as demonstrated by the increase in frequency during long-term culture. Conclusions. Altogether, our results suggest that UC-MSC-based clinical protocols should be designed with caution; their clinical use should be preceded by array-comparative genomic hybridization screening for the acquisition of genomic imbalances during in vitro expansion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1362-1373
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • array comparative genomic hybridization
  • karyotype
  • mesenchymal stromal cells
  • umbilical cord

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