Stem cells differentiate into a variety of cell lines, making them attractive for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. Specific microenvironmental cues regulate self-renewal and differentiation capabilities. Oxygen is an important component of the cellular microenvironment, serving as both metabolic substrate and signaling molecule. Oxygen has been shown to have a variety of effects on embryonic and adult stem cells. This review examines the role of hypoxia in regulating stem cell biology, specifically focusing on growth, maintenance of pluripotency, differentiation, and production of growth factors. Particular attention is paid to hypoxia and stem cells in relation to therapeutic angiogenesis. We conclude that further study is needed to optimize the use of hypoxia as a stimulus for various stem cell functions, including its potential role in therapeutic angiogenesis.
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