A burst of recent findings has shown that neural crest-derived stem cells (NCSCs) reside in diverse mammalian tissues. In addition to tissues known to be derived from the neural crest, recent studies show that NCSCs exist in tissues that are not neural crest-derived, such as bone marrow. Although how NCSCs are defined has varied among reports to date, it is clear that NCSCs can self-renew and have the potential to differentiate into several different neural-crest lineages, including neurons, glial cells, myofibroblasts, melanocytes, adipocytes, chondrocytes, osteocytes, and connective tissues (Crane & Trainor, 2006; Delfino-Machin et al., 2007). NCSCs can express a wide range of characteristics, with their specific properties mainly depending on their tissue source and the animal’s ontogenic stage. The identification of NCSCs in this wide variety of tissues opens an entirely new approach for developing autologous cell replacement therapies for use in regenerative medicine.
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