Stem Cells: Potential, Selection and Plasticity

  • G. de Haan
  • A. Wiersema
Conference paper
Part of the Developments in Hematology and Immunology book series (DIHI, volume 38)


Recently, we have witnessed a surge of reports describing the unprecedented and unexpected biological properties of a class of cells that collectively is referred to as “stem cells”. This flurry of reports and the potential clinical utility of stem cells for a variety of human diseases merits a thorough analysis of biological concepts that are believed to rule stem cell functioning. To discuss some of the recent findings properly, it may be appropriate to reconsider carefully how stem cells are defined. Historically, a stem cell is considered to be a functionally immature cell capable of generating large numbers of functionally mature, committed progeny, while simultaneously producing cells that are indistinguishable from the stem cell itself [1]. This latter process, generally referred to as self-renewal, ensures that the stem cell population itself is never exhausted. Stem cells are typically divided in two main classes, embryonic stem cells and adult, or tissue-specific stem cells.


Stem Cell Hematopoietic Stem Cell Bone Marrow Cell Neural Stem Cell Side Population 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. de Haan
  • A. Wiersema
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Stem Cell BiologyUniversity of GroningenGroningenThe Netherlands

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