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Despite some recent setbacks, it remains clear that adult stem cells under appropriate experimental conditions can at some frequency exhibit a wider range of differentiation potentials than previously appreciated. This is underscored by the recent demonstration of the extensive differentiation potential of mesenchymal stem cells. In terms of mechanism, it remains unclear in many cases to what extent plasticity reflects in vitro adaptation, transdifferentiation/cell-type switching or the persistence in adult tissues of stem cells with extensive endogenous or bona fide developmental potentials. These issues will need to be resolved before the full therapeutic potential of adult-derived stem cells can be realised.
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Current Opinion in Cell Biology, 2002, 14 pp. 749 - 755