Properties Of Stem Cells

Stem Cell Therapy » Properties Of Stem Cells

 
 
 

 

Stem cells are unique in such a way that they hsve the ability for self-renewal; the ability to go through numerous cycles of cell division while maintaining the undifferentiated state; and potency, the capacity to differentiate into specialized cell types. In the strictest sense, this requires stem cells to be either totipotent or pluripotent—to be able to give rise to any mature cell type, although multipotent or unipotent progenitor cells are sometimes referred to as stem cells. Apart from this it is said that stem cell function is regulated in a feed back mechanism.


Self-renewal

Two mechanisms to ensure that a stem cell population is maintained exist:
1.Obligatory asymmetric replication: a stem cell divides into one father cell that is identical to the original stem cell, and another daughter cell that is differentiated
2.Stochastic differentiation: when one stem cell develops into two differentiated daughter cells, another stem cell undergoes mitosis and produces two stem cells identical to the original.

Cell potency

Potency specifies the differentiation potential (the potential to differentiate into different cell types) of the stem cell.

Pluripotent, embryonic stem cells originate as inner cell mass (ICM) cells within a blastocyst. These stem cells can become any tissue in the body, excluding a placenta. Only cells from an earlier stage of the embryo, known as the morula, are totipotent, able to become all tissues in the body and the extraembryonic placenta.

Totipotent (a.k.a. omnipotent) stem cells can differentiate into embryonic and extraembryonic cell types. Such cells can construct a complete, viable organism. These cells are produced from the fusion of an egg and sperm cell. Cells produced by the first few divisions of the fertilized egg are also totipotent.

Pluripotent stem cells are the descendants of totipotent cells and can differentiate into nearly all cells, i.e. cells derived from any of the three germ layers.
Multipotent stem cells can differentiate into a number of cells, but only those of a closely related family of cells.
Oligopotent stem cells can differentiate into only a few cells, such as lymphoid or myeloid stem cells.
Unipotent cells can produce only one cell type, their own, but have the property of self-renewal, which distinguishes them from non-stem cells (e.g., muscle stem cells).

Identification

The practical definition of a stem cell is the functional definition—a cell that has the potential to regenerate tissue over a lifetime. For example, the defining test for a bone marrow or hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) is the ability to transplant one cell and save an individual without HSCs. In this case, a stem cell must be able to produce new blood cells and immune cells over a long term, demonstrating potency. It should also be possible to isolate stem cells from the transplanted individual, which can themselves be transplanted into another individual without HSCs, demonstrating that the stem cell was able to self-renew.

Properties of stem cells can be illustrated in vitro, using methods such as clonogenic assays, in which single cells are assessed for their ability to differentiate and self-renew. Stem cells can also be isolated by their possession of a distinctive set of cell surface markers. However, in vitro culture conditions can alter the behavior of cells, making it unclear whether the cells will behave in a similar manner in vivo. There is considerable debate as to whether some proposed adult cell populations are truly stem cells.

 

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