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Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Neural Crest Stem Cells

Neural crest is the fourth germ layer in vertebrates. Embryonic neural crest cells are pluripotent and self-renewal. During vertebrate embryonic development, the neural crest is specified at the boundary of forming neural tube and epidermis, and then migrate extensively along characteristic embryonic environment to differentiate into a wide variety of different cell types, including neurons and glial cells of the peripheral nervous system, melanocytes of the skin, smooth muscle, bone and craniofacial cartilage.

Recently, the stem cell-like neural crest cells have been isolated from adult tissues. Scientists have isolated neural crest stem cell from adult intestine, which can differentiate into neurons, glia, and myofibroblasts in culture; and people also showed the existence of crest stem cells in the adult hair follicle. These neural crest stem cells from adult hair follicle have the capabilities to give rise to a wide array of cell types, including neurons, Schwann cells, smooth muscle cells, chondrocytes, melanocytes. Considering the ethnic concerns of human embryonic stem cells, the persistence of neural crest stem cells in adults opens up new possibilities for regenerative medicine after injury or disease.

Source: Kruger, G. M et al. Neuron (2002) and Sieber-Blum, M et al. Dev. Dyn (2004)
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