The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 63: 295 - 299 (2019)

Vol 63, Issue 6-7

Isolation and phenotyping of potential stem cells from the umbilical cord of the bottlenose dolphin(Tursiops truncatus)

Technical Article | Published: 18 June 2019

Annalaura Mancia*,1, Giulia Zuccon1,2, Denise Lunardi1, Barbara Biancani3, Claudia Gili3 , Roscoe Stanyon4, Daniel García-Parraga5, Mara Mellado6, Luigi Abelli1 and Victoria Moreno-Manzano6

1University of Ferrara, Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Ferrara, Italy, 2University of Parma, Department of Bioscience, Parma, Italy, 3Costa Edutainment S.p.A., Riccione, Italy, 4University of Firenze, Department of Biology, Firenze, Italy, 5Fundación Oceanográfic de la Comunitat Valenciana, Oceanográfic, Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, Valencia, Spain and 6Neuronal and Tissue Regeneration Lab, Centro de Investigacion Principe Felipe, Valencia, Spain


We have successfully isolated cells with stem-like properties from bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) umbilical cord. Our results show that this cetacean species has embryonic fetal and adult stem cells as do humans and other studied mammals. This accomplishment allows to eventually investigate whether dolphins, due to their unique adaptations to aquatic environments, have special stem cell lineages or distinctive mechanisms of cell programming. Further characterization of their potency to differentiate into multiple cell lineages would fulfill numerous applicative purposes. We characterized, developed and refined a new protocol for obtaining potential stem cells from umbilical cord tissues of the bottlenose dolphin. Tissue samples were taken from umbilical cords of successful deliveries immediately after placenta ejection and collection from the water. Umbilical cord samples (2-3 cm3) were excised and subjected to enzymatic digestion and mechanical dissociation. Viable cells from specimens resident in the Oceanografic Valencia were cultured and subsequently isolated and tested for pluripotent characteristics (cell morphology, phenotype and expression of surface markers). Cell viability was confirmed also after freezing/thawing. The established protocol is suitable for collection/isolation/culture of dolphin potential mesenchymal stem cells from dolphin umbilical cord, which can be deposited in cell banks for future research needs.


marine mammal, injury, mesenchymal stem cell, cryopreservation, stem cell banking

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