The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 54: 1061 - 1065 (2010)

Vol 54, Issue 6-7

Special Issue: Developmental Hematopoiesis

Embryonic origin of human hematopoiesis

Published: 17 July 2010

Manuela Tavian*,1,2, Katia Biasch1, Lidia Sinka2, Judith Vallet1 and Bruno Péault3

1INSERM U682, University of Strasbourg, Strasbourg, France, 2INSERM, U602, University Paris-Sud, France and 3David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA-Orthopaedic Hospital Research Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA


Hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) are at the origin of the adult hematopoietic system. They give rise to all blood cells through a complex series of proliferation and differentiation events that occur throughout the lifespan of the individual. Because of their potential clinical importance in transplantation, recent research has focused on the developmental origins of embryonic HSC. During development in vertebrate embryos, two independent anatomical sites generate hematopoietic cells. The yolk sac is responsible for a first ephemeral hematopoiesis, characterized by the early appearance of hematopoietic progenitors with limited development ability that rapidly differentiate toward erythro-myeloid lineages. Self-renewing, multipotent adult-type HSC that also exhibit B and T lymphoid potentials emerge autonomously in the aorta/gonad/mesonephros (AGM) region inside the embryo. In this review, we provide a brief summary of recent developments regarding the origins of hematopoietic stem cells in the early human embryo. The recent discovery that angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) is a novel cell surface marker of human HSC is discussed in detail.


human embryo, stem cell, hematopoiesis, mesoderm, endothelium

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