The neuroepithelial stem cell protein, or Nestin, is a cytoskeletal intermediate filament initially characterized in neural stem cells. However, current extensive evidence obtained in in vivo models and humans shows presence of Nestin+ cells with progenitor and/or regulatory functions in a number of additional tissues, remarkably bone marrow. This review presents the current knowledge on the role of Nestin in essential stem cell functions, including self-renewal/proliferation, differentiation and migration, in the context of the cytoskeleton. We further discuss the available in vivo models for the study of Nestin+ cells and their progeny, their function and elusive nature in nervous system and bone marrow, and their potential mechanistic role and promising therapeutic value in preclinical models of disease. Future improved in vivo models and detection methods will allow to determine the true essence of Nestin+ cells and confirm their potential application as therapeutic target in a range of diseases.
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