Toward an understanding of the physiological function of Mammalian stem cells

Dev Cell. 2005 Aug;9(2):173-83. doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2005.07.001.


Stem cell biology has the potential to yield new therapies, new insights into disease, and a clearer understanding of tissue formation and maintenance. However, much of what we know about many stem cells is based upon experiments performed in culture. Stem cells sometimes exhibit critical differences in their properties or regulation between the culture and in vivo environments. Though cell lines with stem cell properties can be derived from the long-term culture of diverse tissues, it is not clear whether cells with similar properties exist in vivo. If the goal is to use differentiated cells for therapy or drug screening, it may not matter whether these stem cells exist in vivo. However, to understand tissue development/maintenance or the role of stem cells in disease, it is important to characterize progenitor function in vivo to evaluate physiological significance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nervous System / cytology
  • Nervous System / embryology
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / physiology*