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Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2007 Oct;7(10):1499-514.

Adult marrow-derived very small embryonic-like stem cells and tissue engineering.

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  • 1University of Louisville, Stem Cell Institute at James Graham Brown Cancer Center, 500 South Floyd Street, Louisville, KY 40202, USA.


A population of CXCR4(+) lin(-) CD45(-) cells that express SSEA, Oct-4 and Nanog has been identified in adult bone marrow. These cells are very small and display several features typical for primary embryonic stem cells such as: i) a large nuclei surrounded by a narrow rim of cytoplasm; ii) open-type chromatin (euchromatin); and iii) high telomerase activity. These cells were named very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSEL-SC). The authors hypothesized that they are direct descendants of the germ lineage. Germ lineage, in order to pass genes on to the next generation, has to create soma and thus becomes a 'mother lineage' for all somatic cell lineages present in the adult body. Germ potential is established after conception in a totipotent zygote and retained subsequently during development in blastomers of morula, cells form the inner cell mass of blastocyst, epiblast and population of primordial germ cells. The authors envision that VSEL-SC are epiblast-derived pluripotent stem cells and could potentially become a less-controversial source of stem cells for regeneration.

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