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J Pathol. 2002 Jul;197(4):551-65.

Prostatic stem cells.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Pathology, Duncan Building, University of Liverpool, P.O. Box 147, Liverpool L69 3GA, UK.


Multipotent cells within the epithelial compartment, together with phenotypically 'plastic' mesenchyma cells (stromal stem cells), provide a repository of protected genetic information from which the structure, stability and functionality of the prostate gland can be maintained. However, mere preservation of cells in a non-dividing state is insufficient to provide the necessary reservoir of information from which the structure and function of the prostate gland can be retained or recreated. Rather, there is a constant dynamic interaction, at the level of information exchange, between stem cells (whether epithelial or mesenchymal) and their surrounding environment (both humoral and physical). Thus, with respect to epithelial stem cells, these reside within environmental 'niches' which allow their controlled and limited proliferation while preserving genomic integrity. Similar 'mesenchymal niches' are also predicted to occur, although not yet identified, thus providing the multipotent source from which the full spectrum of stromal phenotypes might be regenerated. Recent data from studies of the haematopoietic and hepato-biliary systems indicate that the potential scope of stem cells far exceeds the immediate phenotypic complement of those tissues within which they originate, being dependent upon their precise environment as well as their genomic integrity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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