The generation of sufficient numbers of blood cells to maintain homeostasis requires sustained production of mature cells. This process, called 'hematopoiesis', yields approximately 1010 blood cells daily, with capability for dramatic increases in the number and subsets of cells in response to physiological stress. Hematopoiesis is therefore a highly dynamic process dependent upon numerous modulating factors. Its prodigious production capability derives from the sustained presence of a cell type which is generally quiescent, but the descendants of which proliferate vigorously. This cell is the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC).
cells, isolated from teratocarcinomas. Pluripotent stem cells may be maintained indefinitely in culture under specialized conditions that prevent differentiation. In particular, embryonic stem cells have been used to generate 'knockout' mice, animals harboring targeted gene disruptions via homologous recombination that permit the in vivo study of individual gene function. Lastly, multipotent stem cells, such as the HSCs of the bone marrow, are capable of giving rise to multiple mature cell types, but only those of a particular tissue, such as blood. Multipotent stem cells are found in adults, perhaps in all tissue, and function to replace dead or damaged tissue. Such stem cells are commonly referred to as 'adult' stem cells.
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