Hematopoietic Stem Cell Niches


The hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) is probably the best characterized somatic stem cell and is still the only one regularly used in clinical practice. Nevertheless, expansion of HSCs in vitro has been surprisingly unsuccessful, limiting their full therapeutic potential. During homeostasis, the vast majority of HSCs are found in the bone marrow (BM) localized to specific microenvironments called stem cell “niches.” Over the last few years our knowledge of cellular niche components and the signaling molecules that coordinate the crosstalk between HSCs and niche cells has dramatically increased. Here we review the two main niche types found in the BM: the endosteal and the vascular niches, and provide an overview of the different signaling and cell adhesion molecules that form the HSC—niche synapse. Signals from BM niches not only control HSC dormancy, but also regulate the balance between self-renewal and differentiation. In the future, successful expansion of HSCs for therapeutic use will require three-dimensional reconstruction of a stem cell-niche unit.


Stem Cell Hematopoietic Stem Cell Stem Cell Niche Cell Stem Cell Bone Marrow Niche 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ), DKFZ-ZMBH AllianceHeidelbergGermany

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