What are stem cells?
Stem cellsare unspecialized cells that have two defining properties: the ability todifferentiateinto other cells and the ability toself-regenerate.
The ability to differentiate is the potential to develop into other cell types. A totipotent
stem cell (e.g. fertilized egg) can develop into all cell types including the embryonicmembranes. A pleuripotentstem cell can develop into cells from all three germinal layers(e.g cells from the inner cell mass). Other cells can be oligopotent, bipotent or unipotentdepending on their ability to develop into few, two or one other cell type(s).
Self-regeneration is the ability of stem cells to divide and produce more stem cells.During early development, the cell division is symmetrical i.e. each cell divides to givesrise to daughter cells each with the same potential. Later in development, the cell dividesasymmetrically with one of the daughter cells produced also a stem cell and the other amore differentiated cell.
DifferentiationPotentialNumber of cell types
Example of stemcel
Cell types resultingfrom differentiation
AllZygote (fertilizedegg), blastomereAll cell types
PleuripotentialAll except cellsof theembryonicmembranesCultured humanES cellsCells from all threegerm layers
MultipotentialManyHematopoieticcellsskeletalmuscle,cardiacmuscle, liver cells, all blood cells
OligopotentialFewMyeloid precursor 5 types of blood cells(Monocytes,macrophages,eosinophils,neutrophils,erythrocytes)
Quadripotential4Mesenchymal progenitor cellCartilage cells, fatcells, stromal cells, bone-forming cells
Tripotential3Glial-restricted precursor 2 types of astrocytes,oligodendrocytes
Bipotential2Bipotential precursor frommurine fetal liver B cells, macrophages
Unipotential 1Mast cell precursor Mast cells
NullipotentialNoneTerminallydifferentiated cell No cell division