Epithelial stem cells of the lung: privileged few or opportunities for many?
Most reviews of adult stem cells focus on the relatively undifferentiated cells dedicated to the renewal of rapidly proliferating tissues, such as the skin, gut and blood. By contrast, there is mounting evidence that organs and tissues such as the liver and pancreatic islets, which turn over more slowly, use alternative strategies, including the self-renewal of differentiated cells. The response of these organs to injury may also reveal the potential of differentiated cells to act as stem cells. The lung shows both slow turnover and rapid repair. New experimental approaches, including those based on studies of embryonic development, are needed to identify putative lung stem cells and strategies of lung homeostasis and repair.
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