Transplanted stem cells may repair liver damage by fusing with host cells, report two papers published online by Nature this week. These findings will fuel the ongoing debate over stem cell versatility and the mechanisms by which the cells repair tissues.
Previous research has suggested that transplants of stem cells from bone marrow can cure mice of a fatal metabolic liver disease, apparently by generating new liver cells. Markus Grompe and colleagues from the Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, now find that these 'new' liver cells actually contain a mix of genes from the transplanted stem cells and the recipient mouse, and that some cells contain double or triple sets of chromosomes.
David Russell and colleagues from the University of Washington, Seattle, also find evidence for fusion, after stem cells from bone marrow are transplanted into mice with tyrosinaemia, another liver disorder. The hybrid cells have a liver-like pattern of gene expression.
Both groups conclude that, at least in the liver, transplanted stem cells can fuse with host cells, and may be reprogrammed into functioning tissue cells.
Dept of Molecular & Medical Genetics
Oregon Health & Science University
Tel: +1 503 494 6888
[Out of town from March 29 – April 4.
Please contact co-author Holger Willenbring (+1 503 494 6889; firstname.lastname@example.org) during this time.]
Division of Hematology
University of Washington
Tel: +1 206 616 4562
(C) Nature press release.
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