About this Research Topic
Plasticity is the hallmark of stem cells. At the same time, stem cells, like any other cell type, are influenced by their microenvironment and respond to it accordingly. A specific microenvironment is defined by a variety of factors, including biological and chemical factors, cell-cell interactions, but also metabolic and mechanical cues. Such dynamic and specialized microenvironment where the stem cells reside is considered a stem cell niche. Research on stem cells of diverse origins (species, organs or tissues) has shown that the function of stem cells is controlled by extracellular cues from their niche and by intrinsic genetic programs within. Considering stem cell properties in the context of microenvironment is of utter importance for their understanding and manipulation. Therefore, large effort has been made to model microenvironments driving stem cells towards a desired phenotype. For instance, a variety of 3D biomaterial scaffolds that mimic native extracellular matrix has been investigated in order to achieve the best support for the stem cells for bone or cartilage regeneration.
Furthermore, the possibility to home stem cells to damaged tissue in vivo also exploits the composition of chemokines in situ. At the site of regeneration, molecular mechanisms guiding stem cell differentiation can be affected by a variety of environmental stimuli, e.g. ischemia-related conditions such as hypoxia and inflammation, or tumor-related factors. Stem cells may create a unique response by modifying their differentiation capacity (or even redirecting the differentiation course), proliferative capacity, ability to self renew or retrieve into quiescence. Recently, intriguing new discoveries have been revealed, demonstrating the correlation between stem cell pluripotency, fate and expansion and their metabolic state. Herein, metabolism can be regarded as a two way variable – intrinsic microenvironment that both regulates and affects stem cell fate. By learning how to guide a stem cell towards a desired response we gain the possibility to develop more efficient treatments and cell therapies.
This Research Topic aims to decipher the behavior of stem cells responding to microenvironmental cues. Specifically, we welcome articles that investigate how microenvironments such as cancer, inflammation, ischemia affect stem cell plasticity in terms of their proliferation, self renewal, differentiation capacity, metabolism and/or immunomodulatory properties. Summarized, the articles should be focused on following or similar issues:
- Stem cell mediated tissue regeneration
- Stem cells in cancer microenvironment
- Stem cells in ischemia (hypoxic conditions)
- Immunomodulatory properties of stem cells
- Plasticity of stem cell metabolism
- Use of stem cell plasticity for therapy or bioengineering
Contributors are encouraged to submit reviews, mini-reviews, commentaries, perspectives, research articles and theoretical papers.
Keywords: stem cells, microenvironment, plasticity, metabolism, cancer, immune, regeneration, bioengineering
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.