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Stem Cells Dev. 2006 Apr;15(2):286-91.

Neural crest as the source of adult stem cells.

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  • 1Division of Biological Sciences, University of Missouri-Columbia, 65211, USA.


Recent studies suggest that adult stem cells can cross germ layer boundaries. For example, bone marrow-derived stem cells appear to differentiate into neurons and glial cells, as well as other types of cells. How can stem cells from bone marrow, pancreas, skin, or fat become neurons and glia; in other words, what molecular and cellular events direct mesodermal cells to a neural fate? Transdifferentiation, dediffereniation, and fusion of donor adult stem cells with fully differentiated host cells have been proposed to explain the plasticity of adult stem cells. Here we review the origin of select adult stem cell populations and propose a unifying hypothesis to explain adult stem cell plasticity. In addition, we outline specific experiments to test our hypothesis. We propose that peripheral, tissue-derived, or adult stem cells are all progeny of the neural crest.

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