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What is potency in stem cells?

Clinical Settings 4

Stem cells are categorised according to their ability to develop into different tissue types. Some stem cells are capable of differentiating into more different tissue types than others.

__Totipotent __ These stem cells can differentiate into any type of tissue. They can create all cell types, tissues, nerves to make a complete organism. The only known totipotent stem cells are the individual cells of the early embryo which are called blastomeres. Each individual blastomere is capable of creating a complete animal or person including the placenta and associated membranes. As the embryo develops the cells lose their totipotency.

__Pluripotent __ They are able to differentiate into most tissues of the body but they are not capable of producing all tissues of the body. Embryonic stem cells are pluripotent stem cells derived from the inner cell mass of the developing embryo. Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC) are created by inserting embryonic stem cell genes into normal body cells.

Multipotent These stem cells are able to differentiate into a number of tissues. Cord blood stem cells are a good example of multipotent stem cells, as they are able to differentiate into all cells of the blood i.e. red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.

Oligopotent These stem cells can only differentiate into a restricted cell lineage or tissue. An example of these are lymphoid stem cells and the corneal stem cells in the eye.

__Unipotent __ These stem cells can only divide into a single cell or tissue type, An example of a unipotent stem cell is a muscle stem cell

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