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Stem cells are cells with a capacity to self-renew and to generate daughter cells that can differentiate into different cell lineages to form all the cell types that are found in the mature tissue. The activity of mammary stem cells and their mitotic progeny is fundamental to normal mammary growth, differentiation and regeneration in successive cycles of pregnancy, lactation and involution. The isolation and characterization of mammary stem cells is fundamental to understanding mammary gland development and tissue homeostasis as well as breast oncogenesis. Several complementary approaches have been employed to isolate, identify and enrich mammary epithelial cells that maintain stem/progenitor cell characteristics. In situ studies of mammary tissue identified potential mammary stem and progenitor cells at the ultrastructural and light microscopy levels at all stages of mammary development. Evidence for the existence of mammary stem and progenitor cells has also been provided by in vitro and in vivo studies. The most useful markers for isolating stem/progenitor cells are the combination of integrin receptors, stem cell antigen-1 (Sca-1), CD24 and lack of steroid hormone receptors, but neither of them are exclusive markers of mammary gland stem cells. The challenge now is to identify new markers, so that these cells can be purified in such a way that meaningful gene expression profiles can be obtained.
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The Editorial Board
Andrzej Łukaszyk - przewodniczący, Zofia Bielańska-Osuchowska, Szczepan Biliński, Mieczysław Chorąży, Aleksander Koj, Włodzimierz Korochoda, Leszek Kuźnicki, Aleksandra Stojałowska, Lech Wojtczak

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Katedra i Zakład Histologii i Embriologii Uniwersytetu Medycznego w Poznaniu, ul. Święcickiego 6, 60-781 Poznań, tel. +48 61 8546453, fax. +48 61 8546440, email:

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