Stem Cells and Innate Immunity in Aquatic Invertebrates: Bridging Two Seemingly Disparate Disciplines for New Discoveries in Biology

Loriano Ballarin, Arzu Karahan, Alessandra Salvetti, Leonardo Rossi, Lucia Manni, Baruch Rinkevich, Amalia Rosner, Ayelet Voskoboynik, Benyamin Rosental, Laura Canesi, Chiara Anselmi, Annalisa Pinsino, Begüm Ece Tohumcu, Anita Jemec Kokalj, Andraž Dolar, Sara Novak, Michela Sugni, Ilaria Corsi, Damjana Drobne

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The scopes related to the interplay between stem cells and the immune system are broad and range from the basic understanding of organism’s physiology and ecology to translational studies, further contributing to (eco)toxicology, biotechnology, and medicine as well as regulatory and ethical aspects. Stem cells originate immune cells through hematopoiesis, and the interplay between the two cell types is required in processes like regeneration. In addition, stem and immune cell anomalies directly affect the organism’s functions, its ability to cope with environmental changes and, indirectly, its role in ecosystem services. However, stem cells and immune cells continue to be considered parts of two branches of biological research with few interconnections between them. This review aims to bridge these two seemingly disparate disciplines towards much more integrative and transformative approaches with examples deriving mainly from aquatic invertebrates. We discuss the current understanding of cross-disciplinary collaborative and emerging issues, raising novel hypotheses and comments. We also discuss the problems and perspectives of the two disciplines and how to integrate their conceptual frameworks to address basic equations in biology in a new, innovative way.

Original languageEnglish
Article number688106
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
StatePublished - 30 Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Ballarin, Karahan, Salvetti, Rossi, Manni, Rinkevich, Rosner, Voskoboynik, Rosental, Canesi, Anselmi, Pinsino, Tohumcu, Jemec Kokalj, Dolar, Novak, Sugni, Corsi and Drobne.


  • aquatic invertebrates
  • immune cells
  • omics technology
  • stem cells
  • system biology
  • tissue regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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