Niches are local tissue microenvironments that maintain and regulate stem cells. Haematopoiesis provides a model for understanding mammalian stem cells and their niches, but the haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) niche remains incompletely defined and beset by competing models. Recent progress has been made in elucidating the location and cellular components of the HSC niche in the bone marrow. The niche is perivascular, created partly by mesenchymal stromal cells and endothelial cells and often, but not always, located near trabecular bone. Outstanding questions concern the cellular complexity of the niche, the role of the endosteum and functional heterogeneity among perivascular microenvironments.
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