Yonsei Med J.  2004 Jun;45(Suppl):S7-S14. 10.3349/ymj.2004.45.Suppl.7.

The Fetal Sheep: A Unique Model System for Assessing the Full Differentiative Potential of Human Stem Cells

  • 1Department of Animal Biotechnology, University of Nevada, Reno, NV, USA. zanjani@scs.unr.edu


The naturally occurring stem cell migratory patterns, the availability of expanding homing and engraftment sites, and the presence of tissue/organ-specific signals in the developing mammalian fetus provide the ideal setting for stem cells to exhibit their full biological potential. These characteristics combined with the relative immunological naivete of the early gestational age fetus that permits the engraftment and long- term persistence of allogeneic and xenogeneic donor stem cells make it possible to use the developing fetus to assess the in vivo potential of a variety of stem cells. We have taken advantage of these permissive characteristics of the fetus to develop a large animal model of human hematopoiesis in sheep that permits not only the long-term engraftment of human hematopoietic stem cell/progenitor cells and their differentiation into the full range of lymphohematopoietic elements, but also the relatively robust expression of their potential to contribute to the formation of non-hematopoietic tissues.


Stem cells, plasticity; in-utero transplantation; transdifferentiation; in vivo model

MeSH Terms

Cell Differentiation
*Models, Animal
*Stem Cell Transplantation
Stem Cells/*cytology
Transplantation, Heterologous
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