Stem cells as probabilistic self-producing entities.
Authors: Ramalho-Santos M.
Reference: Bioessays. 2004 Sep;26(9):1013-6.
Abstract: Stem cells have the capacity both to self-renew and to give rise to differentiated progeny, and are vital to the organization of multicellular organisms. Stem cells raise a number of fundamental questions regarding lineage restriction and cellular differentiation, and they hold enormous promise for cell-based therapies. Here I propose a theoretical framework for stem cell biology based on the concepts of autopoiesis (self-production) and complementarity. I argue that stem cells are pivotal in the self-production of the organism and that we need complementary approaches to understand their probabilistic behavior. I discuss how this framework generates testable hypotheses regarding stem-cell functions.