• ES cells;
  • Feeder cells;
  • Hematopoiesis;
  • Umbilical cord


Clinical application of human embryonic stem (ES) cells will require the establishment of methods for their culture, either in the presence or absence of human-derived feeder cells. We have tested the ability of non-immortalized cultured cells derived from human umbilical cord (HUC cells) to support ES cell culture. A primate ES cell line that had been established and maintained with mouse embryonic fibroblasts was cultured on HUC cells for >3 months (HUC-maintained ES cells). These cells retained their expression of alkaline phosphatase, SSEA-4, Oct-3/4, and to a lesser extent Nanog, but did not express Rex-1. Nevertheless, HUC-maintained ES cells could produce ectoderm-, mesoderm- and endoderm-derived cells in teratomata that they formed in immunodeficient mice. We show that HUC-maintained ES cells could give rise to hematopoietic cells, although this ability of HUC cells varied among HUC cell populations derived from different neonates. HUC cells are promising as human material with which to maintain ES cells in a state that retains their ability to produce mature cells, including hematopoietic cells.