When learning about stem cells, a common question is, what is the difference between totipotent, pluripotent, and multipotent cells? The answer is simple.
The key differences between these cells are:
- When each appears during the process of human development.
- Their degree of “flexibility” to become other cell types.
The key similarity is that all three of these cells types are characterized by self-renewal and the capacity to turn into into mature cell types. Together, they form the 200+ cell types that create a human being.
Let’s dive deeper into these differences below.
Totipotent Stem Cells
Totipotent stem cells are the most versatile stem cell type, because they are formed shortly after fertilization of an egg cell by a sperm cell. They can become all of the cells of the human body, as well as the cells of the embryo and developing fetus.
At about four days into development, these totipotent cells specialize slightly, becoming pluripotent stem cells. [Read more…]