Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ., 19 January 2005
Vol. 2005, Issue 3, p. pe2
[DOI: 10.1126/sageke.2005.3.pe2]


Diabetes and Stem Cell Researchers Turn to the Lowly Spleen

Shohta Kodama, Miriam Davis, and Denise L. Faustman

Shohta Kodama and Denise L. Faustman are at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital-East, Boston, MA 02192, USA. Miriam Davis is at the School of Public Health and Health Services, George Washington University, Washington, DC 20052, USA. E-mail: (D.L.F.)

Key Words: regeneration • stem cells • spleen • embryonic development • Hox11 • diabetes • AGM

Abstract: The spleen gets no respect. Long seen as superfluous, the adult spleen of the mouse has recently been shown to hold stem cells that, in diabetic mice or genetically altered mice that lack a pancreas, effectively regenerate insulin-producing islet cells of the pancreas. Stem cells of the spleen express Hox11, a highly conserved transcription factor that plays a major role in the development of organs in vertebrate and invertebrate embryos. Hox11 and other members of the Hox family of genes may give stem cells of the spleen the capacity to mature into cell types other than islet cells, including neurons and bone cells. Multilineage splenic stem cells may trace to the embryogenesis and possible persistence into adulthood of a fetal stem cell region called the aorta-gonad-mesonephros (AGM). This Perspective calls for reappraisal of the lowly spleen for treating diabetes and other diseases of aging.

Citation: S. Kodama, M. Davis, D. L. Faustman, Diabetes and Stem Cell Researchers Turn to the Lowly Spleen. Sci. Aging Knowl. Environ. 2005 (3), pe2 (2005).

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