2007 Volume 105 Issue 3 Pages 215-228
Regenerative medicine is a new field based on the use of stem cells to generate biological substitutes and improve tissue functions, restoring damaged tissue with high proliferability and differentiability. It is of interest as a potential alternative to complicated tissue/organ transplantation. Recently, amnion-derived cells have been reported to have multipotent differentiation ability, and these cells have attracted attention as a cell source for cell-transplantation therapy. The amnion possesses considerable advantageous characteristics: the isolated cells can differentiate into all three germ layers; they have low immunogenicity and anti-inflammatory functions; and they do not require the sacrifice of human embryos for their isolation, thus avoiding the current controversies associated with the use of human embryonic stem cells. Moreover, we developed human amniotic cell-sheets using a novel culture surface coated with a noncytotoxic, temperature-responsive elastic protein-based polymer. We also generated a “hyper-dry-amnion”, which has already been applied clinically in the ophthalmological field. Compared to cryopreserved fresh amnion, “hyper-dry-amnion” is easy to handle and has started to bring good results to patients. These materials from the amnion are also expected to open a new field in tissue engineering. Thus, amnion, which had been discarded after parturition, has started to be appreciated as an attractive material in the field of regenerative medicine. In this review, the most recent and relevant clinical and experimental data about the use of amniotic membrane and cells derived from it are described.