They are cells that have the potential to form many of the different types of cells found in the body. As they divide, more stem cells (SCs) or other specialized cells may form.
Embryonic cells have the potential to form a complete individual. Whereas adult cells can only form certain types of specialized cells. SCs continue to divide throughout a person’s life.
A stem cell is a specific type of cell in the body.
A stem cell is a specific type of cell in the body that has the potential to form many different types. SCs are generally undifferentiated. They then develop into the mature cells you are familiar with.
So in general, if you think about it, a stem cell is the top brick in a big pyramid. At the base of the pyramid, there are maybe four different types that are derived from that stem cell.
As you can imagine these cells not only mature as they are further down the pyramid. But they also grow in number. So a very small number of SCs can give rise to many mature offspring. Now, there are several different types of SCs.
Different types of stem cells
There are somatic stem cells, which are the ones that live in the adult organism. Such as the stem cells in the bone marrow that give rise to all the different types of blood cells that we have. Or SCs in the liver give rise to hepatocytes and secretory cells.
Or stem cells in neural tissue that give rise to neurons and astroglial cells. Muscle also has stem cells. Many different types of MCs have been identified in adults.
There are also embryonic stem cells, which are obtained from mice at three and a half days, and around six to eight days in human embryos. These are cells with even greater potential than adult cells, since an embryonic stem cell obtained in the right way can give rise to nerve cells, muscle cells, and liver cells. The three different parts that are generally created during the development of an organism.
Stem cells have the remarkable potential to renew themselves. They can develop into many different cell types in the body during early life and growth. Researchers study many different types of stem cells. There are several main categories: the “pluripotent” stem cells (embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cells) and nonembryonic or somatic stem cells (commonly called “adult” stem cells). Pluripotent stem cells have the ability to differentiate into all of the cells of the adult body. Adult stem cells are found in a tissue or organ and can differentiate to yield the specialized cell types of that tissue or organ.NIH support stem cell research
Important to know
One very important thing to remember is that not only do they need to divide and proliferate to make many of these other mature cells, but they also need to ensure that their own population does not shrink.
It’s kind of like if you are getting three wishes, your last wish should be to be able to make more wishes. What MCs do is they can have two different types of divisions. They can do what’s called symmetric division, where the MC divides and the two undifferentiated cells continue on as stem cells.
Or they can do asymmetric division, where one cell is going to proliferate and differentiate into the progeny, and the other cell remains as a stem cell.
In periods such as after bone marrow transplantation, where the number of MCs has to expand. Many more symmetric than asymmetric divisions are made.
But usually in the bone marrow, the MCs perform mostly asymmetric divisions, which keeps the MCs at a fairly standard level.
We invite you to read our article stem cells to learn more.