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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1999 Apr 30;872:256-62; discussion 262-4.

Embryonic beginnings of definitive hematopoietic stem cells.

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Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, Medical Faculty, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


The ability of the many cell types within the adult blood system to be constantly replenished and renewed from hematopoietic stem cells is an interesting problem in development and differentiation and has led to questions concerning how, when and where these stem cells for the adult hematopoietic system are generated within the embryo. During embryonic development many mature hematopoietic cells appear before adult-type hematopoietic stem cells thus the notion of a conventional hematopoietic hierarchy is challenged. Experiments probing the development of hematopoietic stem cells in the mouse embryo strongly suggest that at least two independent hematopoietic sites generate blood cells during development; the yolk sac, which produces the transient embryonic hematopoietic system, and the AGM (aorta-gonad-mesonephros) region, which initiates the long-lived adult hematopoietic system.

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