Health In Focus
  • Pluripotent or embryonic stem cells (PSC) can differentiate between all types of tissues in the body
  • PSCs are therefore useful for research in the field of regenerative and reparative medicine
  • Identification of cell specific markers of immature PSCs will simplify their cultivation and use for research purposes

The discovery of cell surface markers for the earliest embryonic stem cells by scientists at the Karolinska Institutet has given a huge impetus to stem cell and early embryonic research.

Aim of the Study
Cell Surface Markers Specific to Immature Pluripotent Stem Cells Identified

Though the embryonic stem cells that are currently used in research are isolated from the pre-implantation stage of the embryo, it is highly likely that these stem cells have assumed a post-implantation state with consequent limitations.

Na´ve or pre-implantation pluripotent or embryonic stem cells (PSCs) can be obtained from primed post-implantation PSC resetting, but current methods do not allow isolation of unmodified na´ve cells.

Ability to identify and isolate na´ve stem cells which are still not primed is important in the field of stem cell and research in early embryonic development.

Na´ve cells are easier to cultivate and manipulate for research purposes and na´ve PSCs permit generation of tissue types that are difficult with primed PSCs.

Details of the Research
  • Using a set of antibody based screens, the research team was able to determine cell specific markers for the na´ve and primed pluripotent stem cells (PCSs).
  • By validating a set of antibodies in culture lines of multiple na´ve and primed PSCs, the scientists established a set of proteins that were expressed specifically on the pre-implantation but not the post-implantation embryo, confirming the specificity of the antibodies.
  • The team created an antibody panel targeting multiple cell surface antigens and showed that the antibody panel could differentiate between na´ve and primed PSCs, follow the dynamics of na´ve-primed interconversion, and identify na´ve PSCs from a mixed cell population.
  • The antibody panel developed can be used in flow cytometry, a commonly used technique for sorting a heterogenous population of cells.
"We've not had cell surface markers for the different stem cell states before, which has made it hard to study them," says Fredrik Lanner, Assistant Professor at Karolinska Institutet's Department of Clinical Science, Intervention and Technology. "We now have a simple tool for identifying and sorting the cells, which benefits future stem cell research and basic research on early embryonic development."

Potential Benefits of The Research
  • Na´ve PSCs are capable of differentiating into all tissues of the body and assume importance in the field of reparative and regenerative medicine
  • Some tissue types that are difficult to obtain from primed PSC can be obtained from na´ve PSC
  • The molecular events leading to na´ve PSC resetting can be better delineated
  • Cultivation and manipulation of na´ve PSC would become easier
  • Isolating na´ve PSC also paves the way for early embryonic and infertility research
Application of PSCs in Medicine
  • Because of their unique properties, pluripotent stem cellsá can be used to generate any tissue type a person may need to counter a variety of diseases ranging from diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injury, muscular dystrophy and leukemia to name a few.
  • Pluripotent cells can be engineered to provide a perfect HLA match for any patient without the need for tissue typing and incidental rejection issues.
  • PSCs find innumerable applications in research and analysis of disease pathogenesis and evolution and provide the opportunity to correct it in the earliest stages of development.
In conclusion, the delineation of na´ve PSC has opened up a window of opportunities and techniques that are waiting to be tapped into during the course of future research.

References :
  1. Stem Cell Basics III. - (
  2. Why are Pluripotent Stem Cells Important? - (
Source: Medindia

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