Adult stem cells are anchored permanent residents of a particular tissue that are involved in repair and mainte nance. Adult bone marrow, brain, skeletal muscle, liver, pancreas, fat, skin, and gastrointestinal tract have all been shown to possess stem or progenitor cells. It was originally believed that adult stem-cell function was restricted to cell lineages present in the organ from which they were derived. Recent studies suggest that these adult stem cells are multipotent and can transdifferentiate into different cell lineages. Adult stem cells have a reduced differentiation potential compared to embryo-derived stem cells. Among all presently known adult stem or progenitor cells, cell populations from bone marrow have shown the highest potential with respect to multi-lineage differentiation. Potential adult stem cells are progenitors arising from a hierarchal pathway of cells dependent upon the tissue type and, in a healthy state, are part of the transit population. Injury can induce these potential stem cells to regenerate the entire lineage through clonal expansion, including the anchored stem cell, to maintain tissue integrity. Effective markers for anchored stem cells or potential stem cells do not exist outside of the hematopoietic lineage. The absence of a reliable identification system has made the study of these crucial cells limited.
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