Adult stem or programmable cells hold great promise in diseases in which damaged or nonfunctional cells need to be replaced. We have recently demonstrated that peripheral blood monocytes can be differentiated in vitro into cells resembling specialized cell types like hepatocytes and pancreatic beta cells. During phenotypic conversion, the monocytes downregulate monocyte/macrophage differentiation markers, being indicative of partial dedifferentiation, and are partially reprogrammed to acquire a state of plasticity along with expression of various markers of pluripotency and resumption of mitosis. Upregulation of stem cell markers and mitotic activity in the cultures was shown to be controlled by autocrine production/secretion of activin A and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β). These reprogrammed monocyte derivatives were termed "programmable cells of monocytic origin" (PCMO). Current efforts focus on establishing culture conditions that increase both the plasticity and proliferation potential of PCMO in order to be able to generate large amounts of blood-derived cells suitable for both autologous and allogeneic therapies.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)