Stem cells: Cross-talk and developmental programs

Jaime Imitola, Kook In Park, Yang D. Teng, Sahar Nisim, Mahesh Lachyankar, Jitka Ourednik, Franz Josef Mueller, Rene Yiou, Anthony Atala, Richard L. Sidman, Mark Tuszynski, Samia J. Khoury, Evan Y. Snyder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The thesis advanced in this essay is that stem cells - particularly those in the nervous system - are components in a series of inborn 'programs' that not only ensure normal development, but persist throughout life so as to maintain homeostasis in the face of perturbations - both small and great. These programs encode what has come to be called 'plasticity'. The stem cell is one of the repositories of this plasticity. This review examines the evidence that interaction between the neural stem cell (as a prototypical somatic stem cell) and the developing or injured brain is a dynamic, complex, ongoing reciprocal set of interactions where both entities are constantly in flux. We suggest that this interaction can be viewed almost from a 'systems biology' vantage point. We further advance the notion that clones of exogenous stem cells in transplantation paradigms may not only be viewed for their therapeutic potential, but also as biological tools for 'interrogating' the normal or abnormal central nervous system environment, indicating what salient cues (among the many present) are actually guiding the expression of these 'programs'; in other words, using the stem cell as a 'reporter cell'. Based on this type of analysis, we suggest some of the relevant molecular pathways responsible for this 'cross-talk' which, in turn, lead to proliferation, migration, cell genesis, trophic support, protection, guidance, detoxification, rescue, etc. This type of developmental insight, we propose, is required for the development of therapeutic strategies for neurodegenerative disease and other nervous system afflictions in humans. Understanding the relevant molecular pathways of stem cell repair phenotype should be a priority, in our view, for the entire stem cell field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)823-837
Number of pages15
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1445
StatePublished - May 29 2004


  • Degeneration
  • Inflammation
  • Neural stern cells
  • Regeneration
  • Tissue engineering
  • Transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


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