The placenta as a haematopoietic organ
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The recent description of the placenta as a tissue rich in haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells has not only opened up a whole new line of investigation into how haematopoiesis is regulated in this unique mammalian tissue, but has also resulted in the revisiting of longstanding and yet unanswered questions about the significance of having multiple haematopoietic organs during development. Due to its remarkable capacity for haematopoietic stem/progenitor cell expansion, the study of placental haematopoiesis is also of obvious clinical interest. In the following pages, we summarise what is currently known about the haematopoietic regulatory processes in the murine placenta and describe our most recent data demonstrating that the human placenta, like its murine counterpart, is also a source of haematopoietic stem and progenitor cells throughout development.