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Stem Cells International
Volume 2011, Article ID 274564, 10 pages
Review Article

The Haematopoietic Stem Cell Niche: New Insights into the Mechanisms Regulating Haematopoietic Stem Cell Behaviour

1School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK
2School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Aston Triangle, Birmingham, B4 7ET, UK

Received 10 May 2011; Accepted 27 September 2011

Academic Editor: Linheng Li

Copyright © 2011 Andrew J. Lilly et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The concept of the haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) niche was formulated by Schofield in the 1970s, as a region within the bone marrow containing functional cell types that can maintain HSC potency throughout life. Since then, ongoing research has identified numerous cell types and a plethora of signals that not only maintain HSCs, but also dictate their behaviour with respect to homeostatic requirements and exogenous stresses. It has been proposed that there are endosteal and vascular niches within the bone marrow, which are thought to regulate different HSC populations. However, recent data depicts a more complicated picture, with functional crosstalk between cells in these two regions. In this review, recent research into the endosteal/vascular cell types and signals regulating HSC behaviour are considered, together with the possibility of a single subcompartmentalised niche.