The Neuroendocrine Leydig Cells and their Stem Cell Progenitors, the Pericytes


The discovery of the neuroendocrine features of Leydig cells gave rise to the hypothesis of a potential neuroectodermal and/or neural crest origin of testicular Leydig cells. In an experimental animal model the authors revealed that adult Leydig cells originate by transdifferentiation from stem/progenitor cells (pericytes and smooth muscle cells), underlying the close relationship of Leydig cells with testis microvasculature. This and the supporting data from the literature provided the basis for revealing the pericytes as a common adult stem cell type of mammalian species. Distributed by the microvasculature through the entire body, the pericyte, acting as a resting early pluripotent adult stem cell, provides an ingenious system to assure the maintenance, physiological repair and regeneration of organs, each under the influence of specific local environmental factors.

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