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Stem Cell Rev. 2005;1(1):71-7.

Plasticity of epidermal stem cells: survival in various environments.

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Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Carver College of Medicine, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


The keratinocyte cell compartment in the continuously renewing epidermis of the skin is maintained by undifferentiated, self-renewing stem cells. We show that a small subpopulation of epidermal stem cells (EpiSCs) have the capacity to integrate into multiple tissues. These EpiSCs can change their phenotype in direct response of changes in cytokines in vitro, changes in cocultured cells, after injection into damaged environments in vivo. These changes appear to be unrelated to the age of the EpiSC. Even though we can isolate these cells and show that the age of thses cells appears to be irrelevant to this multipotent function, we still do not know how such cells are defined within a tissue or what the life span of a multipotent stem cell is.

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