The Neural Crest (NC) is a transient embryonic structure which appears between the Neural Chord and the future ectoderm during development of the vertebrate embryo. NC cells migrate out of their niche after neurulation and give rise to various cell populations. Importantly, especially in the cranial region, NC cells differentiate not only into ectodermal derivatives such as peripheral neurons and melanocytes, but are also able to generate mesenchymal progeny (e.g. osteoblasts) (see Fig 1).

Neural Crest

Fig. 1. Derivatives of cranial NC cells.

In past, we successfully identified NC-derived stem cells (NCSCs) within different rodent and human tissues such as the periodontal ligament, palate or nasal tissue (inferior turbinate). Main advantages of such adult NCSCs are their easy accessibility and high plasticity without being ethically questionable.

We are interested in novel sources of NCSCs and their regenerative potential in different experimental and pathological scenarios including disease and injury models.


Weber M, Apostolova D, Widera D, Mittelbronn M, Dechant G, Kaltschmidt B and Rohrer H. Alternative generation of CNS neural stem cells and PNS derivatives from neural crest derived peripheral stem cells
Stem Cells. 2015 Feb;33(2):574-88. doi: 10.1002/stem.1880.

Müller J, Ossig C, Greiner J, Hauser S, Fauser M, Widera D, Kaltschmidt C, Storch A and Kaltschmidt B. Intrastriatal transplantation of adult human neural crest-derived stem cells improves functional outcome in Parkinsonian rats. Stem Cells Transl Med. 2015 Jan;4(1):31-43. doi: 10.5966/sctm.2014-0078.

Schürmann M, Wolff A, Widera D, Hauser S, Heimann P, Hütten A, Kaltschmidt C and Kaltschmidt B. Interaction of adult human neural crest-derived stem cells with nanoporous titanium surface is sufficient to induce their osteogenic differentiation. Stem Cell Res. 2014 May 9;13(1):98-110. doi: 10.1016/j.scr.2014.04.017. [Epub ahead of print]

Kaltschmidt B, Kaltschmidt C, Widera D. Adult craniofacial stem cells: sources and relation to the neural crest. Stem Cell Rev. 2012 Sep;8(3):658-71. doi: 10.1007/s12015-011-9340-9.

Hauser S, Widera D, Qunneis F, Müller J, Zander C, Greiner J, Strauss C, Lüningschrör P, Heimann P, Schwarze H, Ebmeyer J, Sudhoff H, Araúzo-Bravo MJ, Greber B, Zaehres H, Schöler H, Kaltschmidt C, Kaltschmidt B. Isolation of novel multipotent neural crest-derived stem cells from adult human inferior turbinate. Stem Cells Dev. 2012 Mar 20;21(5):742-56. doi: 10.1089/scd.2011.0419. Epub 2012 Jan 26.

Widera D, Zander C, Heidbreder M, Kasperek Y, Noll T, Seitz O, Saldamli B, Sudhoff H, Sader R, Kaltschmidt C, Kaltschmidt B. Adult palatum as a novel source of neural crest-related stem cells. Stem Cells. 2009 Aug;27(8):1899-910. doi: 10.1002/stem.104.

Widera D, Grimm WD, Moebius JM, Mikenberg I, Piechaczek C, Gassmann G, Wolff NA, Thévenod F, Kaltschmidt C, Kaltschmidt B.Highly efficient neural differentiation of human somatic stem cells, isolated by minimally invasive periodontal surgery. Stem Cells Dev. 2007 Jun;16(3):447-60.