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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2007 Feb;265-266:10-6. Epub 2007 Jan 19.

Adrenocortical cells with stem/progenitor cell properties: recent advances.

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  • 1University of Michigan Medical School, Cell and Molecular Biology Training Program, 1502 BSRB, 109 Zina Pitcher Place, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2200, United States.


The existence and location of undifferentiated cells with the capability of maintaining the homeostasis of the adrenal cortex have long been sought. These cells are thought to remain mostly quiescent with a potential to commit to self-renewal processes or terminal differentiation to homeostatically repopulate the organ. In addition, in response to physiologic stress, the undifferentiated cells undergo rapid proliferation to accommodate organismic need. Sufficient adrenocortical proliferative capacity lasting the lifespan of the host has been demonstrated through cell transplantation and enucleation experiments. Labeling experiments with tritium, BrdU, or trypan blue, as well as transgenic assays support the clonogenic identity and location of these undefined cells within the gland periphery. We define undifferentiated adrenocortical cells as cells devoid of steroidogenic gene expression, and differentiated cells as cells with steroidogenic capacity. In this review, we discuss historic developmental studies together with recent molecular examinations that aim to characterize such populations of cells.

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