, Volume 331, Issue 1, pp 67-78
Date: 11 Sep 2007

Immunogenicity of human embryonic stem cells

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Human embryonic stem cells (HESC) are pluripotent stem cells isolated from the inner cell mass of human blastocysts. With the first successful culturing of HESC, a new era of regenerative medicine was born. HESC can differentiate into almost any cell type and, in the future, might replace solid organ transplantation and even be used to treat progressive degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. Although this sounds promising, certain obstacles remain with regard to their clinical use, such as culturing HESC under well-defined conditions without exposure to animal proteins, the risk of teratoma development and finally the avoidance of immune rejection. In this review, we discuss the immunological properties of HESC and various strategic solutions to circumvent immune rejection, such as stem cell banking, somatic cell nuclear transfer and the induction of tolerance by co-stimulation blockade and mixed chimerism.