Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) can differentiate into several types of hematopoietic cells (HCs) (such as erythrocytes, megakaryocytes, lymphocytes, neutrophils, or macrophages) and also undergo self-renewal to sustain hematopoiesis throughout an organism's lifetime. HSCs are currently used clinically as transplantation therapy in regenerative medicine and are typically obtained from healthy donors or cord blood. However, problems remain in HSC transplantation, such as shortage of cells, donor risks, rejection, and graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Thus, increased understanding of HSC regulation should enable us to improve HSC therapy and develop novel regenerative medicine techniques. HSC regulation is governed by two types of activity: intrinsic regulation, programmed primarily by cell autonomous gene expression, and extrinsic factors, which originate from so-called "niche cells" surrounding HSCs. Here, we focus on the latter and discuss HSC regulation with special emphasis on the role played by niche cells.
Keywords: embryonic hematopoiesis; hematopoietic stem cell; niche.