PerspectiveSTEM CELLS

Fats enhance stem cell emergence

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Science  08 Mar 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6431, pp. 1041-1042
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw7059

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Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are the primitive cells that produce the blood lineage. They arise from particular blood-forming endothelial cells, called the hemogenic endothelium, that line blood vessels. The regulation of HSCs and their proliferation is of interest to understand normal physiology and to identify and improve therapeutic applications in hematologic diseases, such as leukemia. Previous studies have linked cholesterol levels in the blood with HSC proliferation, resulting in increased numbers of circulating white blood cells that contribute to the formation of atherosclerotic plaques, the cellular debris that accumulates in blood vessels, which leads to blockage (atherosclerosis) and cardiovascular disease (1). On page 1085 of this issue, Gu et al. (2) used zebrafish as a model and discovered that higher plasma cholesterol levels lead to increased HSC emergence from the hemogenic endothelium.