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Biochimie. 2008 Jan;90(1):33-40. Epub 2007 Sep 25.

Telomere stability and telomerase in mesenchymal stem cells.

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Southern Denmark University, Institute for Regional Health Research (IRS), Telomere and Aging Group, Biopark Vejle, Tysklandsvej 7,7100 Vejle, Denmark.


Telomeres are repetitive genetic material that cap and thereby protect the ends of chromosomes. Each time a cell divides, telomeres get shorter. Telomere length is mainly maintained by telomerase. This enzyme is present in high concentrations in the embryonic stem cells and in fast growing embryonic cells, and declines with age. It is still unclear to what extent there is telomerase in adult stem cells, but since these are the founder cells of cells of all the tissues in the body, understanding the telomere dynamics and expression of telomerase in adult stem cells is very important. In the present communication we focus on telomere expression and telomere length in stem cells, with a special focus on mesenchymal stem cells. We consider different mechanisms by which stem cells can maintain telomeres and also focus on the dynamics of telomere length in mesenchymal stem cells, both the overall telomere length and the telomere length of individual chromosomes.

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