Mesenchymal stem/progenitor cells (MSCs) are widely distributed in a variety of tissues in the adult human body (e.g., bone marrow [BM], kidney, lung, and liver). These cells are also present in the fetal environment (e.g., blood, liver, BM, and kidney). However, MSCs are a rare population in these tissues. Here we tried to identify cells with MSC-like potency in human placenta. We isolated adherent cells from trypsin-digested term placentas and established two clones by limiting dilution. We examined these cells for morphology, surface markers, gene expression patterns, and differentiation potential and found that they expressed several stem cell markers, hematopoietic/endothelial cell-related genes, and organ-specific genes, as determined by reverse transcription- polymerase chain reaction and fluorescence-activated cell sorter analysis. They also showed osteogenic and adipogenic differentiation potentials under appropriate conditions. We suggest that placenta-derived cells have multilineage differentiation potential similar to MSCs in terms of morphology, cell-surface antigen expression, and gene expression patterns. The placenta may prove to be a useful source of MSCs.
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