Keratinocyte stem cells: Friends and foes

Authors

  • Carlo Pincelli,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratory of Cutaneous Biology, School of Biosciences and Biotechnologies, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy
    • Institute of Dermatology, School of Biosciences and Biotechnologies, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via del Pozzo 71, 41100 Modena, Italy.
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  • Alessandra Marconi

    1. Laboratory of Cutaneous Biology, School of Biosciences and Biotechnologies, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy
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Abstract

Skin and its appendages provide a protective barrier against the assaults of the environment. To perform its role, epidermis undergoes an ongoing renewal through a balance of proliferation and differentiation/apoptosis called homeostasis. Keratinocyte stem cells reside in a special microenvironment called niche in basal epidermis, adult hair follicle, and sebaceous glands. While a definite marker has yet to be detected, data raised part in humans and part in the mouse system point to a critical role of stem and its progeny transit amplifying cells in epidermal homeostasis. Stem cells are protected from apoptosis and are long resident in adult epidermis. This renders them more prone to be the origin of skin cancer. In this review, we will outline the main features of adult stem cells in mouse and humans and discuss their fate in relation to differentiation, apoptosis, and cancer. J. Cell. Physiol. 225: 310–315, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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