Every day, our body produces billions of blood cells that help keep our organs oxygenated and fight against infections. Blood stem cells – also called haematopoietic stem cells – divide continuously and sustain the mass production of all blood cell types.
Embryos express CD44 on the cell surface, where it binds hyaluronic acid – a key ingredient of anti-aging products in the cosmetic industry. While hyaluronic acid might make your skin look better, it turns out that it also interacts with CD44 to promote the formation of haematopoietic stem cells in developing embryos.
In this confocal image, CD44 coats some cells (green) in a cross-section of an embryonic artery. Magenta shows the expression of a protein in cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels, while nuclei appear in blue, coloured with a fluorescent dye (DAPI).
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