ISSN 10623604, Russian Journal of Developmental Biology, 2011, Vol. 42, No. 5, pp. 350–351. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2011.
Original Russian Text © V.Ya. Brodskii, 2011, published in Ontogenez, 2011, Vol. 42, No. 5, pp. 398–400.
Properties of stem cells (SCs) are one of the most
intensively investigated directions in cellular and
developmental biology with the prospects of using the
results for therapy of human diseases in clinical prac
tice. Different aspects of this important and relevant
issue are described on 402, large format pages in this
book. The book consists of five parts, each of which
includes several chapters written by 70 authors from
different countries. References are given at the end of
each chapter. I have known Professor Bruce Carlson
for many years and should note his significant contri
bution both to the very appearance of the book, cre
ated according to a specific plan, and to the clarity of
presentation of a difficult material. I am sure that the
clarity of the text is the merit of the editor, an out
standing teacher who has been delivering lectures in
Cytology and Histology at the University of Michigan
for many years.
The main text is preceded by basic definitions and
fundamental data defining the concept of “stemness.”
What criteria characterize SCs and what is the differ
ence between them and their first and subsequent
progeny? Such criteria have long been discussed in the
literature; however, the very concept of a “stem” is the
source of many misunderstandings and speculations.
The wellknown characteristics of SCs, such as self
renewal, clonality, multi or pluripotency (with the
necessary distinguishing from totipotent blastomeres)
are supplemented by multifaceted, often quite new
Part I—Introduction to Stem Cell Biology—con
tains five chapters of basic information about the
properties of SCs, the sources of obtaining, and poten
tials of development. More than ten mammalian spe
cies are listed from whose embryos SCs were isolated.
The similarities and distinctions of the most compre
hensively studied mouse and human embryonic SCs
are analyzed. The parameters of differentiation of
human embryonic SCs in vitro and in graft are speci
fied and the prospects for their use in clinical practice
are described. The properties of postnatal SCs from
different sources and the prospects of using these cells
and their first derivatives, progenitor cells, for bioengi
neering purposes are considered in detail. Much
attention is given to describing the most wellstudied
objects—intestinal villi, epidermis, tongue papillae,
and bone marrow. Special attention is paid to the plas
ticity of SCs in transplants—their ability to undergo
transdifferentiation or fuse with host cells. Another
chapter is devoted to mesenchymal SCs, their particu
lar plasticity, and different pathways of development.
One section of this chapter includes the description of
methods of isolation and cultivation of these cells.
Using bone marrow, cartilage, bones, and muscles as
examples, the main results of using SCs in clinical
practice are considered. The authors warn against pre
mature enthusiasm and emphasize that the knowledge
of SCs is only “rudimentary.” The plasticity and
regenerative potential of SCs are described in the last
chapter of this part of the book. This chapter is written
by B.M. Carlson, the editor of the book, a leading
authority and author of a special book on molecular
and cellular basis of regeneration
. The chapter
focuses on the involvement of SCs in regeneration in
mammals. An interesting overview of recent works
describes the possibility of restoring the properties of
the heart after stem cell therapy. Although the results
are modest so far, the relevance of further work is obvi
ous, and the strategy for future research is discussed.
The same applies to the recovery of skeletal muscle.
No less attention is given to regenerative processes in
the nervous system. Transplants from different sources
have been used long ago. The book summarizes ample
data and, what is important, objectively discusses var
ious prospects. An important problem discussed in
other chapters of the book is the activation of ones own
stem and, not less important problem, in my opinion,
is the deactivation of SCs with the completion of
Part II—Methods of Obtaining Embryonic SCs
(ESCs)—also consists of five chapters. The first part
gives an overview of the general properties of SCs and
their potency, whereas the second part describes spe
cific methods of obtaining ESCs and their cultivation.
The book even contains the pictures of a model labo
ratory and the schemes of its blocks, lists the best
equipment, and specifies the quality standards for cell
material. Different approaches to obtaining human
Bruce M. Carlson, “Principles of Regenerative Biology,” Acad.
Press, Elsevier, 2007. See the review by E.N. Grigoryan in the
Journal of Developmental Biology, 2010.
“Stem Cell Anthology. Stem Cell Biology, Tissue Engineering,
Cloning, Regenerative Medicine and Biology”, Bruce M. Carlson,
Ed., Acad. Press, 2010