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J Endocrinol Invest. 2004;27(6 Suppl):64-7.

Neural stem cells: an overview.

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  • 1Laboratory of Neurobiology, National Neurological Institute C Besta, Milan, Italy.


Multipotent stem cells are present in the majority of mammalian tissues where they are a renewable source of specialized cells. According to the several biological portions from which multipotent stem cells can be derived, they are characterized as a) embryonic stem cells (ESCs) isolated from the pluripotent inner-cell mass of the pre-implantation blastocyste-stage embryo; b) multipotent fetal stem cells (FSCs) from aborted fetuses; and c) adult stem cells (ASCs) localized in small zones of several organs known as "niche" where a subset of tissue cells and extracellular substrates can indefinitely house one or more stem cells and control their self-renewal and progeny production in vivo. ECSs have an high self-renewing capacity, plasticity and pluripotency over the years. Pluripotency is a property that makes a stem cell able to give rise to all cell type found in the embryo and adult animals.

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