The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 54: 1099 - 1106 (2010)

Vol 54, Issue 6-7

Special Issue: Developmental Hematopoiesis

The placenta as a haematopoietic organ

Open Access | Published: 17 July 2010

Katrin Ottersbach*,1 and Elaine Dzierzak2

1Department of Haematology, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, University of Cambridge, U.K. and 2Erasmus Stem Cell Institute, Department of Cell Biology, Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands


The recent description of the placenta as a tissue rich in haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells has not only opened up a whole new line of investigation into how haematopoiesis is regulated in this unique mammalian tissue, but has also resulted in the revisiting of long-standing and yet unanswered questions about the significance of having multiple haematopoietic organs during development. Due to its remarkable capacity for haematopoietic stem/progenitor cell expansion, the study of placental haematopoiesis is also of obvious clinical interest. In the following pages, we summarise what is currently known about the haematopoietic regulatory processes in the murine placenta and describe our most recent data demonstrating that the human placenta, like its murine counterpart, is also a source of haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells throughout development.


placenta, haematopoietic stem cell, HSC, development

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