On the Origin of the Term “Stem Cell”

Institute for Regeneration Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.
Cell stem cell (Impact Factor: 22.27). 07/2007; 1(1):35-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2007.05.013
Source: PubMed


Stem cells have fascinated both biologists and clinicians for over a century. Here, we discuss the origin of the term "stem cell," which can be traced back to the late 19th century. The term stem cell originated in the context of two major embryological questions of that time: the continuity of the germ-plasm and the origin of the hematopoietic system. Theodor Boveri and Valentin Häcker used the term stem cell to describe cells committed to give rise to the germline. In parallel, Artur Pappenheim, Alexander Maximow, Ernst Neumann, and others used it to describe a proposed progenitor of the blood system. The original meanings of the term stem cell, rather than being historical relics, continue to capture important aspects of the biology of stem cells as we see them today.

    • "Stem cells became part of this debate in 1868. From then onwards they underwent a number of conceptual transformations (Ramalho and Willenbring 2007; Blasimme and Dröscher 2011; Maehle 2011; Dröscher 2012). Still, notwithstanding considerable differences, their original meaning coincides with today's in several decisive aspects, which may be summarized as follows: firstly, stem cells are regarded as specific material entities which, secondly, are defined by their unique developmental potency and therefore, thirdly, represent the morphological origin of a directed and predetermined development which passes from the simple to the differentiated. "
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    ABSTRACT: Stem cells did not become a proper research object until the 1960 s. Yet the term and the basic mind-set-namely the conception of single undifferentiated cells, be they embryonic or adult, as the basic units responsible for a directed process of development, differentiation and increasing specialisation-were already in place at the end of the nineteenth century and then transmitted on a non-linear path in the form of tropes and diagrams. Ernst Haeckel and August Weismann played a special role in this story. The first coined the term Stammzelle (stem cell), the second was the author of the first cellular stem-tree diagram. Even today, I shall argue, the understanding of stem cells, especially the popular perception, is to a large extent a Haeckelian-Weismannian one. After having demonstrated this, by analysing the terminology, in this essay I will focus on the use of cytogenetic tree diagrams between 1892 and 1925 and on the tacit understanding of stem cells that they transmit.
    No preview · Article · Oct 2014 · History & Philosophy of the Life Sciences
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    • "The term stem cell was proposed for scientific use by Russian histologist Alexander Maksimov in 1909. He was the first to suggest the existence of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) with the morphological appearance of a lymphocyte, capable of migrating throughout the blood to micro ecological niches that would allow them to proliferate and differentiate.[1] Tissue engineering as a scientific discipline has shown promising results in the field of dentistry also. "
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    ABSTRACT: Stem cells are primitive cells that can differentiate and regenerate organs in different parts of the body such as heart, bones, muscles and nervous system. This has been a field of great clinical interest with immense possibilities of using the stem cells in regeneration of human organ those are damaged due to disease, developmental defects and accident. The knowledge of stem cell technology is increasing quickly in all medical specialties and in dental field too. Stem cells of dental origin appears to hold the key to various cell-based therapies in regenerative medicine, but most avenues are in experimental stages and many procedures are undergoing standardization and validation. Long-term preservation of SHED cells or DPSC is becoming a popular consideration, similar to the banking of umbilical cord blood. Dental pulp stem cells (DPSCs) are the adult multipotent cells that reside in the cell rich zone of the dental pulp. The multipotent nature of these DPSCs may be utilized in both dental and medical applications. A systematic review of the literature was performed using various internet based search engines (PubMed, Medline Plus, Cochrane, Medknow, Ebsco, Science Direct, Hinari, WebMD, IndMed, Embase) using keywords like "dental pulp stem cells", "regeneration", "medical applications", "tissue engineering". DPSCs appears to be a promising innovation for the re-growth of tissues however, long term clinical studies need to be carried out that could establish some authentic guidelines in this perspective.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014
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    • "Despite the apparently recent foundation of the field, its origin dates back to the second half of the 19th century, when the term “stem cell” appeared in the scientific research conducted by the German scientist Ernest Haeckel (1868). Thereafter, German zoologists Theodor Boveri and Valentin Häcker (1892) independently adapted this term to describe the developmental process of the sea urchin and nematode Ascaris [1,2], and the copepod [1,2], respectively. Later, at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Arthur Pappenheim (1896) and Ernst Neumann (1912) extended the use of the term to designate all precursor cells in the hematopoietic system [1,2]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Stem cells emerged as a concept during the second half of 19(th) century, first as a theoretical entity, but then became one of the most promising research fields in cell biology. This work describes the most important characteristics of adult stem cells, including the experimental criteria used to identify them, and discusses current knowledge that led to the proposal that stem cells existed in different parts of the eye, such as the retina, lens, conjunctiva, corneal stroma, Descemet's membrane, and the subject of this review: the corneal epithelium. Evidence includes results that support the presence of corneal epithelial stem cells at the limbus, as well as the major obstacles to isolating them as pure cell populations. Part of this review describes the variation in the basement membrane composition between the limbus and the central cornea, to show the importance of the corneal stem cell niche, its structure, and the participation of extracellular matrix (ECM) components in regulating corneal stem cell compartment. Results obtained by various laboratories suggest that the extracellular matrix plays a central role in regulating stem cell commitment, corneal differentiation, and participation in corneal wound healing, in addition to other environmental signals such as cytokines and growth factors. The niche could define cell division patterns in corneal stem cell populations, establishing whether stem cells divide asymmetrically or symmetrically. Characterization and understanding of the factors that regulate corneal epithelial stem cells should open up new paths for developing new therapies and strategies for accelerating and improving corneal wound healing.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2013 · Molecular vision
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