Dermal Stem Cells and Cancers

Stem cell researchers often get a celebrity boost.  Spinal cord injury victim actor Christopher Reeve was an avid advocate for stem cell research.  Our sincerest sympathy, however, often skips out on the fine details.

As it turns out your body has its own stem cell supply which is a much better match for immunorejection.  The dermal layer of skin contains primordial germ cells also known as progenitor or stem cells.  Extracting these and farming needed organs for human use in the donor in a donor-host maximized immunomatching algorithm is a much needed area of focus in medical research.  

Back to UV light and its capacity to induce DNA breakage... Consider that a progenitor stem cell in the dermis may be subjected to a dose of intense summer solar radiation during a round of golf or a swim at the beach with lensing under droplets magnifying the searing rays.

If a stem cell is so often subjected to this penetrating influence it must often yield a sum.  In the rolling of dice eventually, given enough time and tosses, triple sixes will come up.  Even six sixes.  Or ten.  But recall the damage may be cumulative and the sixes stack and even if 500 are needed given enough exposure critical  breakage will occur.  Telomeric ends will demethylate and the integrity of genetic information needed to make a new cell will be compromised.  

If the stem cell gets mutated and migrates as is often the case with tumours - they seek a secondary site - and express their tissue of destination.  Thus a skin tumor gets typed as brain or breast and is termed primary when it is actually secondary.

Here, we reckon that the multipotentiality of an activated and migratory dermal progenitor cell may escape detection as far as tissue and organ of origin go.  Imagine the rogue cell settling within a new site.  Suppose it adopts the characteristics of the new tissue given that it may not yet have differentiated into a fully finalized phenotype.  There are several steps from stem cell to any one of a number of final organ tissue types depending on the environment and activation factors present to any given progenitor series. 

For example, a stem destined to become a trigeminal ganglion neuron may go through 8 steps in its progression via cell division and specialization before finally taking on its appearance of full end function in the body. 

So now think.  If a person comes down with blood cancer might it have originated in a high-frequency, high-risk zone such as the dermis?  

Or if a lipoma - a common fatty pad under the skin which appears more with age and weight - is actually the first stage of the aforementioned invasion?  Hard to tell as most doctors won't touch these and pathology may be lacking. 

We need to recalculate and reapportion more of the cancer burden in the body whether appearing as primary or not as possibly arising from a prototypical multipotential dermal stem cell subjected to the rather high mutation force of UV rays.  Origins story under review.