Difference Between Stem Cells and Embryonic Stem Cells

Stem Cells vs Embryonic Stem Cells

Stem cells are a unique type of cells that are capable of giving rise to specialized cell types in the body. In addition, they are unspecialized and have the ability to divide and renew themselves for long periods. Several types of stem cells have been found from germ cells; the embryo, fetus, and adult stem cells. When we consider the embryonic stem cells and other stem cells in general, they differ in many ways depending on their capabilities.

Stem Cells

Stem cells are the fundamental cells that have the self-renewal capacity as well as a long life span when compared to other somatic cells.  These cells can be developed into any type of cell in the body by the process called cell differentiation. Once the cells are differentiated, they acquire different morphology and function that vary widely from their progenitor cells. In addition, stem cells can regenerate many organs. Depending on the ability of renewal and to develop into other cell types, there are two distinctive types of stem cells; adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells.  Another classification can be done by considering the cell types that they differentiate; totipotent stem cells, which are able to form both embryo and placenta, pluripotent stem cells, which have the ability to form the embryo, multipotent stem cells that form three embryonic germ layers, and monopotent stem cells, which are able to form a single cell type. (Read the Difference Between Pluripotent and Totipotent Stem Cells)

Embryonic Stem Cells

As the name implies, embryonic cells are derived from embryos and are capable of giving rise to any cell type in the human body. Unlike the other stem cells, the embryonic stem cells are pluripotent; hence they are capable of giving rise to any cell except placental cells. Another unique property of embryonic cells is that they can retain for very long periods without losing their potency.

What is the difference between Stem Cells and Embryonic Stem Cells?

• Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent, whereas stem cells, in general, can be multipotent or monopotent.

• Embryonic stem cells can give rise to any cell type in the body, whereas other stem cells generally give rise to cell types in a particular tissue, where it lives in.

• Unlike the other stem cells, embryonic stem cells can be easily grown in culture. Therefore, large amount of other stem cells like adult stem cells are needed for stem cell replacement therapies.

• During stem cell implantation, patient’s own adult stem cells can be reintroduced back to the same patient, and the rejection possibility by the immune system is very low. In contrast, the transplant rejection possibility is high when embryonic stem cells are used.

• All the stem cells are derived from embryonic stem cells during the embryonic development.