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Review
. 2016 Nov 15;419(2):199-216.
doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2016.09.006. Epub 2016 Sep 14.

Neural Crest Stem Cells and Their Potential Therapeutic Applications

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Review

Neural Crest Stem Cells and Their Potential Therapeutic Applications

Jessica Aijia Liu et al. Dev Biol. .
Free article

Abstract

The neural crest (NC) is a remarkable transient structure generated during early vertebrate development. The neural crest progenitors have extensive migratory capacity and multipotency, harboring stem cell-like characteristics such as self-renewal. They can differentiate into a variety of cell types from craniofacial skeletal tissues to the trunk peripheral nervous system (PNS). Multiple regulators such as signaling factors, transcription factors, and migration machinery components are expressed at different stages of NC development. Gain- and loss-of-function studies in various vertebrate species revealed epistatic relationships of these molecules that could be assembled into a gene regulatory network defining the processes of NC induction, specification, migration, and differentiation. These basic developmental studies led to the subsequent establishment and molecular validation of neural crest stem cells (NCSCs) derived by various strategies. We provide here an overview of the isolation and characterization of NCSCs from embryonic, fetal, and adult tissues; the experimental strategies for the derivation of NCSCs from embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, and skin fibroblasts; and recent developments in the use of patient-derived NCSCs for modeling and treating neurocristopathies. We discuss future research on further refinement of the culture conditions required for the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells into axial-specific NC progenitors and their derivatives, developing non-viral approaches for the generation of induced NC cells (NCCs), and using a genomic editing approach to correct genetic mutations in patient-derived NCSCs for transplantation therapy. These future endeavors should facilitate the therapeutic applications of NCSCs in the clinical setting.

Keywords: Human embryonic stem cells; Induced pluripotent stem cells; Melanocytes; Mesenchymal; Neural crest stem cells.

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