Stem cells are a category of cells with the ability to divide and develop into different types of cells in the body. They are distinguished from the normal cells since they divide and renew themselves over a longer period of time. Moreover, they are unspecialized cells with no specific cellular function in the body. They have the potential to differentiate and become specialized cells in the body such as brain cells, blood cells, and muscle cells. Adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells are two types of stem cells.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Adult Stem Cells
3. What are Embryonic Stem Cells
4. Similarities Between Adult and Embryonic Stem Cells
5. Side by Side Comparison – Adult vs Embryonic Stem Cells in Tabular Form
What are Adult Stem Cells?
Adult stem cells are present in differentiated tissues of the body. These tissues include skeletal muscle, liver, pancreas, brain, eye, dental pulp, skin, bone marrow, blood and lining of the gastrointestinal tract. Moreover, adult stem cells remain in these tissues undifferentiated, with continuous self-renewal and producing identical copies of cells throughout the lifetime of the organism. They undergo differentiation into specialized cells of their tissues of origin when needed.
Hematopoietic stem cells are a type of adult stem cells present in the bone marrow. They are considered multipotent stem cells as they give rise to different types of blood cells from a single type of cells. Regulated gene expression is responsible for these variations in differentiated cells. It is controlled by special types of transcription factors. Also, stem cells present in the brain are multipotent. They give rise to both muscle and blood cells.
What are Embryonic Stem Cells?
Embryonic stem cells are the undifferentiated cells present in the inner cell mass of the blastocyst – a hollow ball of cells developed from the zygote after rapid mitosis. Hence, these stem cells are categorized as stem cells present in the early stages of embryonic development.
Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent. Therefore, they give rise to cells of three germ layers – endoderm, ectoderm, and mesoderm – except the placenta and umbilical cord. Pluripotency distinguishes embryonic stem cells from adult stem cells.
Embryonic stem cells provide valuable assistance as a renewable resource in the study of diseases and for testing of potential therapeutics and drugs. Under defined conditions, embryonic stem cells possess the ability to divide indefinitely.
What are the Similarities Between Adult and Embryonic Stem Cells?
- Adults and embryonic stem cells are two types of stem cells in multicellular organisms.
- Both stem cells have the potential to multiply and differentiate.
- Also, both embryonic and adult stem cells serve as repair systems for the body.
What is the Difference Between Adult and Embryonic Stem Cells?
Adult stem cells and embryonic stem cells are the two main types of stem cells. The key difference between adult and embryonic stem cells is that adult cells are multipotent as they have a limited ability to differentiate while embryonic stem cells are pluripotent as they have the ability to differentiate into any cell type. Also, a further difference between adult and embryonic stem cells is that the embryonic stem cells can readily grow in cell cultures while the growth of adult stem cells in cell cultures is very challenging.
Moreover, a significant difference between adult and embryonic stem cells is that the adult stem cells are present in adult tissues while embryonic stem cells are present in the early development at the blastocyst stage.
Summary – Adult vs Embryonic Stem Cells
The key difference between adult and embryonic stem cells lies in their potency. That is; the adult stem cells are multipotent while embryonic stem cells are pluripotent. Adult stem cells are present in differentiated tissues of the body such as liver, pancreas, skeletal muscle, etc. Regulated gene expression is responsible for variations in differentiated cells derived from adult stem cells. On the other hand, embryonic stem cells are present in the inner cell mass of the blastocyst. These stem cells give rise to the cells of ectoderm, endoderm, and mesoderm. Furthermore, embryonic stem cells divide indefinitely under defined conditions. This is the summary of the difference between adult and embryonic stem cells.
1. “Stemcellheartrepair” By US gov -(Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Human embryonic stem cells only A” Автор: Human_embryonic_stem_cells.png: (Images: Nissim Benvenisty)derivative work: Vojtech.dostal (talk) – Human_embryonic_stem_cells.png (CC BY 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia