We report here that cells co-purifying with mesenchymal stem cells - termed here multipotent adult progenitor cells or MAPCs - differentiate, at the single cell level, not only into mesenchymal cells, but also cells with visceral mesoderm, neuroectoderm and endoderm characteristics in vitro. When injected into an early blastocyst, single MAPCs contribute to most, if not all, somatic cell types. On transplantation into a non-irradiated host, MAPCs engraft and differentiate to the haematopoietic lineage, in addition to the epithelium of liver, lung and gut. Engraftment in the haematopoietic system as well as the gastrointestinal tract is increased when MAPCs are transplanted in a minimally irradiated host. As MAPCs proliferate extensively without obvious senescence or loss of differentiation potential, they may be an ideal cell source for therapy of inherited or degenerative diseases.
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