Stem Cells - Adult

From Embryology


The term "stem cells" is now used widely to cover many different cells derived from both embryo and adult tissues.

A useful guide (online PDF document) to stem cells was produced in a report by the National Institute of Health (NIH, USA, May 2000) and more recently NIH has established a Stem Cell information page.

This page also currently has some information on Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT), see also Fertilization.

Stem Cell Links: Introduction | Timeline | Placental Cord Blood | Adult | Induced pluripotent stem cell | Yamanaka Factors | Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer | Ethics | Organoids | Adult Human Cell Types | Category:Stem Cell

Some Recent Findings

Stem cell artificial trachea and bronchi (Image UCL)
  • High Hes1 expression and resultant Ascl1 suppression regulate quiescent vs. active neural stem cells in the adult mouse brain[1] "Somatic stem/progenitor cells are active in embryonic tissues but quiescent in many adult tissues. The detailed mechanisms that regulate active versus quiescent stem cell states are largely unknown. In active neural stem cells, Hes1 expression oscillates and drives cyclic expression of the proneural gene Ascl1, which activates cell proliferation. Here, we found that in quiescent neural stem cells in the adult mouse brain, Hes1 levels are oscillatory, although the peaks and troughs are higher than those in active neural stem cells, causing Ascl1 expression to be continuously suppressed. Inactivation of Hes1 and its related genes up-regulates Ascl1 expression and increases neurogenesis. This causes rapid depletion of neural stem cells and premature termination of neurogenesis. Conversely, sustained Hes1 expression represses Ascl1, inhibits neurogenesis, and maintains quiescent neural stem cells. In contrast, induction of Ascl1 oscillations activates neural stem cells and increases neurogenesis in the adult mouse brain. Thus, Ascl1 oscillations, which normally depend on Hes1 oscillations, regulate the active state, while high Hes1 expression and resultant Ascl1 suppression promote quiescence in neural stem cells."
  • Division-independent differentiation mandates proliferative competition among stem cells[2] "Stem cell numbers can be maintained constant while producing differentiated products through individually asymmetrical division outcomes or by population asymmetry strategies in which individual stem cell lineages necessarily compete for niche space. We considered alternative mechanisms underlying population asymmetry and used quantitative modeling to predict starkly different consequences of altering proliferation rate: A variant, faster proliferating mutant stem cell should compete better only when stem cell division and differentiation are independent processes. For most types of stem cells, it has not been possible to ascertain experimentally whether division and differentiation are coupled. However, Drosophila follicle stem cells (FSCs) provided a favorable system with which to investigate population asymmetry mechanisms and also for measuring the impact of altered proliferation on competition. We found from detailed cell lineage studies that division and differentiation of an individual FSC are not coupled. We also found that FSC representation, reflecting maintenance and amplification, was highly responsive to genetic changes that altered only the rate of FSC proliferation. The FSC paradigm therefore provides definitive experimental evidence for the general principle that relative proliferation rate will always be a major determinant of competition among stem cells specifically when stem cell division and differentiation are independent."
More recent papers  
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Search term: Adult Stem Cell | Adult Neural Stem Cell

Older papers  
These papers originally appeared in the Some Recent Findings table, but as that list grew in length have now been shuffled down to this collapsible table.

See also the Discussion Page for other references listed by year and References on this current page.

  • A subpopulation of adult skeletal muscle stem cells retains all template DNA strands after cell division[3] "Satellite cells are adult skeletal muscle stem cells that are quiescent and constitute a poorly defined heterogeneous population. ... Proliferating Pax7-nGFP(Hi) cells exhibit lower metabolic activity, and the majority performs asymmetric DNA segregation during cell division, wherein daughter cells retaining template DNA strands express stem cell markers. Using chromosome orientation-fluorescence in situ hybridization, we demonstrate that all chromatids segregate asymmetrically, whereas Pax7-nGFP(Lo) cells perform random DNA segregation. Therefore, quiescent Pax7-nGFP(Hi) cells represent a reversible dormant stem cell state, and during muscle regeneration, Pax7-nGFP(Hi) cells generate distinct daughter cell fates by asymmetrically segregating template DNA strands to the stem cell."
  • First Successful Transplantation of a Synthetic Tissue Engineered Windpipe Karolinska Institute | University College London | BBC News "An international team designed and built the nanocomposite tracheal scaffold and produced a specifically designed bioreactor used to seed the scaffold with the patient´s own stem cells. The cells were grown on the scaffold inside the bioreactor for two days before transplantation to the patient. Because the cells used to regenerate the trachea were the patient's own, there has been no rejection of the transplant and the patient is not taking immunosuppressive drugs."

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell

(iPS cell) A reprogrammed adult stem cell to form an embryonic stem cell, from which tissues or whole animals can develop. Can be generated by the expression of just four specific transcription factors.

Links: Induced Stem Cells

Bone Marrow Stem Cell

Bone marrow stromal stem cells

Skin Stem Cell

De Rosa L & De Luca M. (2012). Cell biology: Dormant and restless skin stem cells. Nature , 489, 215-7. PMID: 22972293 DOI. Mascré G, Dekoninck S, Drogat B, Youssef KK, Broheé S, Sotiropoulou PA, Simons BD & Blanpain C. (2012). Distinct contribution of stem and progenitor cells to epidermal maintenance. Nature , 489, 257-62. PMID: 22940863 DOI.

Hair Follicle Stem Cell

Sieber-Blum M, Grim M, Hu YF & Szeder V. (2004). Pluripotent neural crest stem cells in the adult hair follicle. Dev. Dyn. , 231, 258-69. PMID: 15366003 DOI.

Dental Pulp Stem Cell (DPSC)

Dental pulp stem/stromal cell (DPSC) are similar to bone marrow derived mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (hBMSCs) in the expression pattern of cell surface markers and their pluripotent differentiation capability.

Huang AH, Snyder BR, Cheng PH & Chan AW. (2008). Putative dental pulp-derived stem/stromal cells promote proliferation and differentiation of endogenous neural cells in the hippocampus of mice. Stem Cells , 26, 2654-63. PMID: 18687995 DOI.

Munoz JR, Stoutenger BR, Robinson AP, Spees JL & Prockop DJ. (2005). Human stem/progenitor cells from bone marrow promote neurogenesis of endogenous neural stem cells in the hippocampus of mice. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. , 102, 18171-6. PMID: 16330757 DOI.

Gronthos S, Brahim J, Li W, Fisher LW, Cherman N, Boyde A, DenBesten P, Robey PG & Shi S. (2002). Stem cell properties of human dental pulp stem cells. J. Dent. Res. , 81, 531-5. PMID: 12147742 DOI.

Spermatogonial Stem Cell


Neural Stem Cell

In the adult brain, the subependymal zone (SEZ) (a thin layer of cells lining the lateral wall of the lateral brain ventricles) is a source of neural stem cells (NSCs). Hes1, a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor, appears to be a key regulator of neural stem cell development. Hes1 has a dual transcriptional role, able to act as a repressor or a transcriptional activator for different genes.

Links: OMIM - Hes1

Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer

Dolly the Sheep

In 1996 Dolly the sheep was the first animal to be produced by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) using an adult-derived somatic cell as nuclear donor.

SCNT using a range of different cell types has been successfully applied to a range of species (cattle, mice, goats, pigs, cats, rabbits, horses, rats, dogs and ferrets. (see review[4])

Animal Timeline

Links: Fertilization | Animal Development


  1. Sueda R, Imayoshi I, Harima Y & Kageyama R. (2019). High Hes1 expression and resultant Ascl1 suppression regulate quiescent vs. active neural stem cells in the adult mouse brain. Genes Dev. , , . PMID: 30862661 DOI.
  2. Reilein A, Melamed D, Tavaré S & Kalderon D. (2018). Division-independent differentiation mandates proliferative competition among stem cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. , , . PMID: 29555768 DOI.
  3. Rocheteau P, Gayraud-Morel B, Siegl-Cachedenier I, Blasco MA & Tajbakhsh S. (2012). A subpopulation of adult skeletal muscle stem cells retains all template DNA strands after cell division. Cell , 148, 112-25. PMID: 22265406 DOI.
  4. Galli C, Lagutina I, Perota A, Colleoni S, Duchi R, Lucchini F & Lazzari G. (2012). Somatic cell nuclear transfer and transgenesis in large animals: current and future insights. Reprod. Domest. Anim. , 47 Suppl 3, 2-11. PMID: 22681293 DOI.
  5. Campbell KH, McWhir J, Ritchie WA & Wilmut I. (1996). Sheep cloned by nuclear transfer from a cultured cell line. Nature , 380, 64-6. PMID: 8598906 DOI.
  6. Cibelli JB, Stice SL, Golueke PJ, Kane JJ, Jerry J, Blackwell C, Ponce de León FA & Robl JM. (1998). Cloned transgenic calves produced from nonquiescent fetal fibroblasts. Science , 280, 1256-8. PMID: 9596577
  7. Wakayama T, Perry AC, Zuccotti M, Johnson KR & Yanagimachi R. (1998). Full-term development of mice from enucleated oocytes injected with cumulus cell nuclei. Nature , 394, 369-74. PMID: 9690471 DOI.
  8. Baguisi A, Behboodi E, Melican DT, Pollock JS, Destrempes MM, Cammuso C, Williams JL, Nims SD, Porter CA, Midura P, Palacios MJ, Ayres SL, Denniston RS, Hayes ML, Ziomek CA, Meade HM, Godke RA, Gavin WG, Overström EW & Echelard Y. (1999). Production of goats by somatic cell nuclear transfer. Nat. Biotechnol. , 17, 456-61. PMID: 10331804 DOI.
  9. Polejaeva IA, Chen SH, Vaught TD, Page RL, Mullins J, Ball S, Dai Y, Boone J, Walker S, Ayares DL, Colman A & Campbell KH. (2000). Cloned pigs produced by nuclear transfer from adult somatic cells. Nature , 407, 86-90. PMID: 10993078 DOI.


Moraleda JM, Blanquer M, Bleda P, Iniesta P, Ruiz F, Bonilla S, Cabanes C, Tabares L & Martinez S. (2006). Adult stem cell therapy: dream or reality?. Transpl. Immunol. , 17, 74-7. PMID: 17157222 DOI.

Serafini M & Verfaillie CM. (2006). Pluripotency in adult stem cells: state of the art. Semin. Reprod. Med. , 24, 379-88. PMID: 17123233 DOI.

Pessina A & Gribaldo L. (2006). The key role of adult stem cells: therapeutic perspectives. Curr Med Res Opin , 22, 2287-300. PMID: 17076989 DOI.


Ross JJ & Verfaillie CM. (2008). Evaluation of neural plasticity in adult stem cells. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., B, Biol. Sci. , 363, 199-205. PMID: 17282993 DOI.

Prentice DA & Tarne G. (2007). Treating diseases with adult stem cells. Science , 315, 328. PMID: 17234930 DOI.

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Cite this page: Hill, M.A. (2024, May 18) Embryology Stem Cells - Adult. Retrieved from

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