Physiological and pathological consequences of identification of very small embryonic like (VSEL) stem cells in adult bone marrow
Bone marrow (BM) contains a population of self-renewing hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) that give rise to cells from all hemato-lymphopoietic lineages. The concept that HSC could also be plastic and be able to transdifferentiate into stem/progenitor cells for different non-hematopoietic tissues became one of the most controversial issues of modern stem cell biology. Accumulating experimental evidence suggests that contribution of BM-derived stem cells to organ/tissue regeneration could be explained not by plasticity (transdifferentiation) of HSC but rather by the presence of non-hematopoietic stem cells in BM. In this review new evidence will be presented, that adult BM contains a small population of pluripotent very small embryonic-like (VSEL) stem cells. These cells are deposited in BM early during ontogenesis and could be mobilized from BM and circulate in peripheral blood during tissue/organ injury in an attempt to regenerate damaged organs. However, if these cells are mobilized at the wrong time and migrate to the wrong place they may contribute to the development of several pathologies, including tumor formation.