Imaging stem-cell-driven regeneration in mammals


The ability to observe biological processes continuously, instead of at discrete time points, holds great promise for the study of tissue regeneration. Ideally, single cells would be followed continuously within large tissue volumes (such as organs) over long periods of time. Technical limitations, however, preclude such studies. But, recently, there have been improvements in imaging technologies and biologically compatible labelling agents. Together with new insights into the molecular characteristics of stem cells, which are ultimately responsible for the regenerative potential of all tissues, researchers are now much closer to applying single-cell imaging approaches to research into regeneration and its clinical applications.

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Figure 1: The need for continuous observation of dynamic cellular systems.
Figure 2: The spatiotemporal resolution of different imaging modalities.


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I apologize to colleagues whose work could not be cited because of space constraints. I thank V. Ntzachristos, L. Godinho and M. Sixt for discussions, and M. A. Rieger, A. IJpenberg and E. Drew for critical reading of the manuscript. This work was financed in part by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

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Schroeder, T. Imaging stem-cell-driven regeneration in mammals. Nature 453, 345–351 (2008) doi:10.1038/nature07043

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