Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Spleen may be source of versatile stem cells

20.01.2005


Cells have protein associated with embryonic development, limb regeneration



A year ago, Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers discovered that the spleen might be a source of adult stem cells that could regenerate the insulin-producing islets of the pancreas. In a follow-up to that unexpected finding, members of the same team now report that these potential adult stem cells produce a protein previously believed to be present only during the embryonic development of mammals.

The finding both supports the existence of these splenic stem cells and also suggests they may be able to produce an even greater variety of tissues. The report appears in the January 19 issue of SAGE KE (http://sageke.sciencemag.org ), an online resource on the science of aging from the publishers of the journal Science.


"There may be a previously undiscovered pocket of primitive stem cells in the spleen that are important for healing several types of damage or injury," says Denise Faustman, MD, PhD, director of the MGH Immunobiology Laboratory and senior author of the SAGE KE report. "If so, these cells could have much broader therapeutic applications than suggested by our earlier work."

In 2001 Faustman’s team found that a treatment designed to address the autoimmune reaction underlying type 1 diabetes actually cured the disease in diabetic mice. Late in 2003 they reported the mechanism behind the earlier discovery: cells from the spleens of donor mice – intended to train the diabetic animals’ immune systems not to attack islet cells – were actually producing new islets. The result suggested that the adult spleen – previously regarded as playing a fairly minor role in regenerative medicine – might contain a population of potential islet stem cells.

In their pursuit of that finding, the MGH researchers investigated the possible presence of a protein called Hox11 in these cells. In mammals, Hox11 is a controller of key steps in embryonic development – including the formation of the spleen – but it was not known to be present in adults under normal circumstances. In some other animals, however, the protein has an intriguing function: when creatures like newts regenerate a lost limb or tail, production of Hox11 is radically increased.

As reported in their SAGE KE article, the MGH team did find that Hox11 was produced in the spleens of adult mice by the same cells that regenerated the islets in the earlier study. They also found that these cells did not produce a protein known to be associated with a cellular commitment to develop into a particular type of tissue. Without that commitment, the splenic cells may be able to differentiate into a wider variety of cells than can adult stem cells from bone marrow, which do not produce Hox11.

The researchers also note that the spleen develops from embryonic tissue that is known not only to generate precursors to many types of blood cells, a function shared by the bone marrow, but potentially to form such diverse organs as the small intestine, uterus, vascular system and lung. They theorize that a pocket of these uncommitted cells might remain in the spleen though adulthood. In addition to regeneration of islets, these cells might also produce bone cells – suggested by findings from other researchers – or potentially even cells of the nervous system, development of which depends on the correct production of Hox11.

"We know that if you have a major loss of blood, the spleen is turned on to supplement the bone marrow in replenishing your blood supply. We may find that the spleen kicks in to help with many more biological emergencies. What has been considered a practically unnecessary organ may actually provide critical healing cells," says Faustman, an associate professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

She adds, "This data also shows the kind of payback that can come from studies of lower animals like newts and sponges. Combining the knowledge of Hox11’s role in those animals with what we’d found about islet cell regeneration in mice helped us find this previously unknown example of normal, controlled Hox11 expression in an adult mammal."

Sue McGreevey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.mgh.harvard.edu
http://sageke.sciencemag.org
http://www.joinleenow.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Warming ponds could accelerate climate change
21.02.2017 | University of Exeter

nachricht An alternative to opioids? Compound from marine snail is potent pain reliever
21.02.2017 | University of Utah

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>