Stem Cells of the Reproductive System: At a Glance

  • Phillip G. Stubblefield


Stem cells have been isolated, expanded, and characterized from most of the female organs of reproduction and from the testis and prostate of males. The cells have the characteristics of other mesenchymal stem cells. They are multipotent and inducible in culture to form cells of all three lineages, ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm. They do not form teratomas when xenografted in the nude mouse model. Epithelial and stromal cells of the endometrium obtained by surgery, biopsy, or, more recently, directly from menstrual blood have been differentiated into pancreatic islet-like cells producing insulin, neural-like cells producing dopamine and DOPAC, neurotrophic growth factors, and cardiomyocytes. Transplants of these cells have been effective in murine models of human chronic illness, diabetes, chronic limb ischemia, multiple sclerosis, stroke, and congestive heart failure. Human trials of endometrial cells for severe congestive heart failure are in progress. Recently, fallopian tube stem cells have been isolated and are beginning to be used therapeutically as well. The ovary is a source of germline cells that give promise for new treatment of premature ovarian senescence and somatic stem cells as another potential source for regenerative medicine. Spermatogonial cells of the testis are being studied for fertility preservation and restoration and are being differentiated into somatic stem cells for treatment, still in animal models. The prostate is another source of somatic stem cells but is mainly of interest at present because of the roles of prostatic stem cells in benign prostatic hypertrophy and prostatic cancer, both very common problems. Cancer stem cells of the ovary are also of critical importance for possible leads to more effective therapies for ovarian cancer, a highly lethal illness because it is asymptomatic until after metastasis in most cases.


Stem Cell Mesenchymal Stem Cell Hepatocyte Growth Factor Seminiferous Tubule Side Population 
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Copyright information

© Springer India 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of MedicineBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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