Wharton’s jelly mesenchymal stem cells (WJ-MSCs) are multipotent stem cells that can be used in regenerative medicine. However, to reach the high therapeutic efficacy of WJ-MSCs, it is necessary to obtain a large amount of MSCs, which requires their extensive in vitro culturing. Numerous studies have shown that in vitro expansion of MSCs can lead to changes in cell behavior; cells lose their ability to proliferate, differentiate and migrate. One of the important measures of cells’ migration potential is their elasticity, determined by atomic force microscopy (AFM) and quantified by Young’s modulus. This work describes the elasticity of WJ-MSCs during in vitro cultivation. To identify the properties that enable transmigration, the deformability of WJ-MSCs that were able to migrate across the endothelial monolayer or Matrigel was analyzed by AFM. We showed that WJ-MSCs displayed differences in deformability during in vitro cultivation. This phenomenon seems to be strongly correlated with the organization of F-actin and reflects the changes characteristic for stem cell maturation. Furthermore, the results confirm the relationship between the deformability of WJ-MSCs and their migration potential and suggest the use of Young’s modulus as one of the measures of competency of MSCs with respect to their possible use in therapy.
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