(HealthDay News) – Cord blood-derived cells can preferentially migrate and engraft into the intestine, which could be useful in treating disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, according to a study published in the September issue of Hepatology.

Joshua A. Wood, PhD, from the University of Nevada in Reno, and colleagues transplanted human cord blood-derived endothelial colony-forming cells (ECFC) into fetal sheep at 59–65 days’ gestation by two routes (intraperitoneal or intrahepatic) and examined where they engrafted after 85 days.

The researchers found that the overall percentage of intestinal engraftment was about 9%, and about 82% localized to the intestinal crypt region and the villi. Donor-derived cells in the intestine displayed myofibroblast markers. In contrast, the percentage of donor-derived cells in the liver was 0.11%, with over 90% localized to perivascular areas. The liver-engrafted cells displayed endothelial markers.

“Our studies have established, in a noninjury model, that human ECFC can lodge within the liver and contribute to the vasculature, and that strategies to increase the number of cells persisting within the hepatic parenchyma may be necessary to increase ECFC therapeutic potential,” Wood and colleagues write. “The significant levels of ECFC engraftment in the intestine and the supporting niche formed by the donor-derived ECFC strongly suggest that these cells could constitute a potential resource for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.”

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