Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Thymus cells transform into skin cells in Swiss laboratory

Date:
August 19, 2010
Source:
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
Summary:
Taking one type of cell and transforming it into another type is now possible. Cells taken from the thymus have been transformed into skin cells -- a discovery that may have important ramifications for the field of organ regeneration. The findings show that these stem cells change their genetic make-up according to their environment to contribute to the long-term functioning of the skin, even producing hair for up to a year after implantation.

This cross-section of skin shows rat thymic epithelial cells (green) contributing to hair follicles and sebaceous glands.
Credit: EPFL

Taking one type of cell and transforming it into another type is now possible. Cells taken from the thymus have been transformed into skin cells -- a discovery that may have important ramifications for the field of organ regeneration. The findings, published on the 19th of August in Nature, show that these stem cells change their genetic make-up according to their environment to contribute to the long-term functioning of the skin, even producing hair for up to a year after implantation.

In collaboration with the University of Edinburgh, UK, the Swiss research team with European colleagues* isolated thymic epithelial cells (TECs)-taken from the thymus of a rat-and integrated them into the rat's skin cells with surprising results. These epithelial cells taken from the thymus, an organ found in the thoracic cage, switch over from what they were originally created by the body to do and take up a novel role according to their new environment.

"These cells really change track, expressing different genes and becoming more important," explains Professor Yann Barrandon, head of the Laboratory Stem Cell Dynamics, a chair shared by the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), the University of Lausanne and its teaching hospital (CHUV).

While in the thymus, these cells teach T-cells to recognize and destroy bacteria and cancer cells-a key component to the immune system. The experiment's results show that these cells have the ability to express genetic markers unlike its original make-up when placed in different microenviroments. Until now, experiments using hair follicle stem cells to maintain hair and skin growth have met with limited results. The thymic stem cells have proven effective for up to a year after implantation-a major improvement over the three-week performance of bona fide hair follicle stem cells.

"This operation could have theoretically been reproduced with other organs," continues EPFL Professor Barrandon. Not only could these findings create new opportunities in the field of organ transplantation and regeneration, for severe burn victims for example, but they also call into question standard biological models by showing that it is possible to create tissues from cells with different embryonic origins.

When an animal develops, embryos form three cellular or germ layers – ectoderm, endoderm and mesoderm – which then go on to form the body's organs and tissues.

Ectoderm becomes skin and nerves, endoderm becomes the gut and organs such as the liver, pancreas and thymus, and mesoderm becomes muscle, bones and blood.

Until now it was believed that germ layer boundaries could not be crossed – that cells originating in one germ layer could not develop into cells associated with one of the others.

This latest research shows that thymus cells, originating from the endoderm, can turn in to skin stem cells, which originate from the ectoderm origin. This suggests germ layer boundaries are less absolute than previously thought.

*EuroStemCell, EuroSyStem, OptiStem, National Institute of Diabetes and Kidney Diseases, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Paola Bonfanti, Stéphanie Claudinot, Alessandro W. Amici, Alison Farley, C. Clare Blackburn, Yann Barrandon. Microenvironmental reprogramming of thymic epithelial cells to skin multipotent stem cells. Nature, 2010; 466 (7309): 978 DOI: 10.1038/nature09269

Cite This Page:

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "Thymus cells transform into skin cells in Swiss laboratory." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100818131605.htm>.
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. (2010, August 19). Thymus cells transform into skin cells in Swiss laboratory. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100818131605.htm
Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. "Thymus cells transform into skin cells in Swiss laboratory." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100818131605.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — That little voice telling you to exercise, get in shape and get healthy is probably coming from your boss. More companies are beefing up wellness programs to try and cut down their health care costs. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) — Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) — The Food and Drug Administration wants to crack down on the use of e-cigarettes, banning the sale of the product to minors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins