Stem Cells and the Endometrium: From the Discovery of Adult Stem Cells to Pre-Clinical Models
2021 doi: 10.3390/cells10030595
Adult stem cells (ASCs) were long suspected to exist in the endometrium. Indeed, several types of endometrial ASCs were identified in rodents and humans through diverse isolation and characterization techniques. Putative stromal and epithelial stem cell niches were identified in murine models using label-retention techniques. In humans, functional methods (clonogenicity, long-term culture, and multi-lineage differentiation assays) and stem cell markers (CD146, SUSD2/W5C5, LGR5, NTPDase2, SSEA-1, or N-cadherin) facilitated the identification of three main types of endogenous endometrial ASCs: stromal, epithelial progenitor, and endothelial stem cells. Further, exogenous populations of stem cells derived from bone marrow may act as key effectors of the endometrial ASC niche. These findings are promoting the development of stem cell therapies for endometrial pathologies, with an evolution towards paracrine approaches. At the same time, promising therapeutic alternatives based on bioengineering have been proposed.