Uterine stem cells: what is the evidence?

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    The mucosal lining (endometrium) of the human uterus undergoes cyclical processes of regeneration, differentiation and shedding as part of the menstrual cycle. Endometrial regeneration also follows parturition, almost complete resection and in post-menopausal women taking estrogen replacement therapy. In non-menstruating species, there are cycles of endometrial growth and apoptosis rather than physical shedding. The concept that endometrial stem/progenitor cells are responsible for the remarkable regenerative capacity of endometrium was proposed many years ago. However, attempts to isolate, characterize and locate endometrial stem cells have only been undertaken in the last few years as experimental approaches to identify adult stem/progenitor cells in other tissues have been developed. Adult stem cells are defined by their functional properties rather than by marker expression. Evidence for the existence of adult stem/progenitor cells in human and mouse endometrium is now emerging because functional stem cell assays are being applied to uterine cells and tissues. These fundamental studies on endometrial stem/progenitor cells will provide new insights into the pathophysiology of various gynaecological disorders associated with abnormal endometrial proliferation, including endometrial cancer, endometrial hyperplasia, endometriosis and adenomyosis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)87 - 101
    Number of pages15
    JournalHuman Reproduction Update
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2007

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