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Leukemia. 2006 May;20(5):857-69.

A population of very small embryonic-like (VSEL) CXCR4(+)SSEA-1(+)Oct-4+ stem cells identified in adult bone marrow.

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  • 1Stem Cell Biology Program at James Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40202, USA.


By employing multiparameter sorting, we identified in murine bone marrow (BM) a homogenous population of rare (approximately 0.02% of BMMNC) Sca-1(+)lin(-)CD45- cells that express by RQ-PCR and immunohistochemistry markers of pluripotent stem cells (PSC) such as SSEA-1, Oct-4, Nanog and Rex-1. The direct electronmicroscopical analysis revealed that these cells are small (approximately 2-4 microm), posses large nuclei surrounded by a narrow rim of cytoplasm, and contain open-type chromatin (euchromatin) that is typical for embryonic stem cells. In vitro cultures these cells are able to differentiate into all three germ-layer lineages. The number of these cells is highest in BM from young (approximately 1-month-old) mice and decreases with age. It is also significantly diminished in short living DBA/2J mice as compared to long living B6 animals. These cells in vitro respond strongly to SDF-1, HGF/SF and LIF and express CXCR4, c-met and LIF-R, respectively, and since they adhere to fibroblasts they may be coisolated with BM adherent cells. We hypothesize that this population of Sca-1(+)lin(-)CD45- very small embryonic-like (VSEL) stem cells is deposited early during development in BM and could be a source of pluripotent stem cells for tissue/organ regeneration.

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