Role of adult stem cells in organ regeneration is overstated

by Alexey Bersenev on August 21, 2014 · 0 comments

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Today, the dogma about regeneration of adult organs from stem cells still prevails. However, the series of studies from last year has challenged our current understanding of tissue regeneration in adults. Two more studies, published last week, added “one more nail in the coffin” of current dogma.

Both studies utilized lineage tracing and genetic analysis in the models of liver injury. Johanna Schaub demonstrated that none of “liver stem cell” candidates contributed to hepatocyte replenishment in chronic liver injury:

In contrast to previous studies, we failed to detect hepatocytes derived from biliary epithelial cells or mesenchymal liver cells beyond a negligible frequency. In fact, we failed to detect hepatocytes that were not derived from pre-existing hepatocytes. In conclusion, our findings argue against LSCs, or other nonhepatocyte cell types, providing a backup system for hepatocyte regeneration in this common mouse model of chronic liver injury.

Using different methodologies, Kilangsungla Yanger came up with the same conclusions – stem cell-based model does not work in liver regeneration.

So, the field has entered in controversy. Big chunk of literature suggests significant role of non-hepatocytes (bile duct cells, oval cells…) in liver regeneration. However, most of these studies were testing differentiation capacity of non-hepatocytes into hepatocytes in vitro. Tracing cell fate in vivo definitely has an advantage. Limitations of particular models and species should be also considered.

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