Identification of stem cell populations in sweat glands and ducts reveals roles in homeostasis and wound repair

Cell. 2012 Jul 6;150(1):136-50. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2012.04.045.


Sweat glands are abundant in the body and essential for thermoregulation. Like mammary glands, they originate from epidermal progenitors. However, they display few signs of cellular turnover, and whether they have stem cells and tissue-regenerative capacity remains largely unexplored. Using lineage tracing, we here identify in sweat ducts multipotent progenitors that transition to unipotency after developing the sweat gland. In characterizing four adult stem cell populations of glandular skin, we show that they display distinct regenerative capabilities and remain unipotent when healing epidermal, myoepithelial-specific, and lumenal-specific injuries. We devise purification schemes and isolate and transcriptionally profile progenitors. Exploiting molecular differences between sweat and mammary glands, we show that only some progenitors regain multipotency to produce de novo ductal and glandular structures, but that these can retain their identity even within certain foreign microenvironments. Our findings provide insight into glandular stem cells and a framework for the further study of sweat gland biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult Stem Cells / classification
  • Adult Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Adult Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Epidermal Cells
  • Epidermis / physiology
  • Female
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / cytology
  • Mice
  • Morphogenesis
  • Multipotent Stem Cells / physiology
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Sweat Glands / cytology*
  • Sweat Glands / embryology
  • Sweat Glands / physiology
  • Wound Healing*

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE37274