How the stem cell niche never dies
09 December 2010
Stem cells are enclosed by special protective cells in what is known as a stem cell niche in the surrounding tissue. A new paper from Karolinska Institutet, published in the scientific journal Cell Stem Cell, now demonstrates how the stem cell niche in the adult mouse brain can be maintained for life - in a way that is completely different from stem cells.
Stem cells give rise to new cells in many organs throughout a body's lifespan. Besides producing different types of specialised cell, stem cells also produce new stem cells.
Without this property of duplication, the bodys store of stem cells would soon be depleted. This self-renewal capacity is the key to how stem cells can serve as a kind of cellular perpetual motion machine, constantly generating new cells.
The self-renewal capacity is attributable not only to the unique properties of stem cells but also to the unique characteristics of their environment.
Stem cells are enclosed by special protective cells in what is known as a stem cell niche in the surrounding tissue. Although a great deal of research has been devoted to the unique properties of stem cells, nothing has been known about how the stem cell niche is maintained.
Stem cells have a unique ability to divide an almost infinite number of times to produce new copies of themselves.