What are stem cell compartments

While stem cells were originally associated with processes of embryogenesis and germ cell formation, we now know that stem cells are also found in the adult organism in numerous organs such as the muscles, the skin, the brain and the bone marrow, but also in the visceral organs such as Liver, intestine and pancreas occur and are involved in cell renewal and organ regeneration, but also in the formation of tumors.

So far, little is known about stem cell-assisted liver regeneration. It is known that liver regeneration is mainly supported by the hepatocytes, i.e. the functional liver cells. The hepatocytes divide more frequently in the event of liver damage. In the case of pronounced damage that cannot be compensated for by an increase in the number of hepatocytes, precursor cells, so-called progenitor cells, occur more frequently in the liver. These small, oval cells are called oval cells in the animal model and have the potential to differentiate into hepatocytes and bile duct epithelial cells.

In addition to researching signaling pathways such as Wnt and Notch, which are involved in the regulation of stem cells and the development of different differentiated cells, we are also concerned with the identification and characterization of the stem cell compartments of the liver and pancreas. The focus of the work are so-called stellate cells, which were first described by our working group as stem / progenitor cells. Star cells have characteristic lipid droplets in which, among other things, they store vitamin A as retinyl palmitate.