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Stem Cells. 2009 Sep;27(9):2220-8. doi: 10.1002/stem.135.

High aldehyde dehydrogenase activity: a novel functional marker of murine prostate stem/progenitor cells.

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Division of Immunology, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.


We have shown previously that prostatic stem/progenitor cells can be purified from isolated prostate ducts, based on their high expression of the Sca-1 surface antigen. We now report that high levels of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) activity are present in a subset of prostate epithelial cells that coexpress a number of antigens found on stem/progenitor cells of other origins (CD9, Bcl-2, CD200, CD24, prominin, Oct 3/4, ABCG2, and nestin). Almost all of these cells expressing high levels of ALDH activity also express Sca-1 and a third of them express high levels of this antigen. The cells with high levels of ALDH activity have greater in vitro proliferative potential than cells with low ALDH activity. Importantly, in an in vivo prostate reconstitution assay, the cells expressing high levels of ALDH activity were much more effective in generating prostatic tissue than a population of cells with low enzymatic activity. Thus, a high level of ALDH activity can be considered a functional marker of prostate stem/progenitor cells and allows for simple, efficient isolation of cells with primitive features. The elucidation of the role of ALDH in prostate stem/progenitor cells may lead to the development of rational therapies for treating prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia.

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