Wharton's jelly

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Wharton's jelly (substantia gelatinea funiculi umbilicalis) is a gelatinous substance within the umbilical cord also present in vitreous humor of the eyeball, largely made up of mucopolysaccharides (hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate). It also contains some fibroblasts and macrophages.[1] It is derived from extra-embryonic mesoderm.

Umbilical cord occlusion[edit]

As a mucous tissue, it protects and insulates umbilical blood vessels. Wharton's jelly, when exposed to temperature changes, collapses structures within the umbilical cord and thus provides a physiological clamping of the cord (an average of) 5 minutes after birth.

Stem cells[edit]

Cells in Wharton's jelly express several stem cell genes, including telomerase. They can be extracted, cultured, and induced to differentiate into mature cell types such as neurons.[2] Wharton's jelly is therefore a potential source of adult stem cells (also see the more common method of storing cord blood).[3] Wharton's jelly-derived mesenchymal stem cells may have immunomodulatory effect on lymphocytes.[4] In a recent study, Wharton’s Jelly tissue transplantation has shown to be able to reduce traumatic brain injury and may have therapeutic potential.[5]


It is named for the English physician and anatomist Thomas Wharton (1614–1673) who first described it in his publication Adenographia, or "The Description of the Glands of the Entire Body", first published in 1656.[6]


  1. ^ Wharton's jelly in the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary.
  2. ^ Mitchell KE, Weiss ML, Mitchell BM, Martin P, Davis D, Morales L, Helwig B, Beerenstrauch M, Abou-Easa K, Hildreth T, Troyer D, Medicetty S. Matrix cells from Wharton's jelly form neurons and glia. Stem Cells. 2003;21(1):50-60.
  3. ^ Wharton's Jelly, Hair Follicles New Sources of Adult Stem Cells, Studies Find StemCellNews.com, 13 May 2005.
  4. ^ Zhou C, Yang B, Tian Y, Jiao H, Zheng W, Wang J, Guan F (September 29, 2011). "Immunomodulatory effect of human umbilical cord Wharton's jelly-derived mesenchymal stem cells on lymphocytes". Cell Immunol. 272 (1): 33–8. doi:10.1016/j.cellimm.2011.09.010. PMC 3235326Freely accessible. PMID 22004796. 
  5. ^ Cheng T, Yang B, Li D, Ma S, Tian Y, Qu R, Zhang W, Zhang Y, Hu K, Guan F, Wang J (February 1, 2015). "Wharton's Jelly Transplantation Improves Neurologic Function in a Rat Model of Traumatic Brain Injury". Cell Mol Neurobiol. 35: 641–9. doi:10.1007/s10571-015-0159-9. PMC 4481175Freely accessible. PMID 25638565. 
  6. ^ Warton T (1656). Adenographia: sive glandularum totius corporis descriptio. London: Wharton. pp. 243–44. 

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