Review Volume 4, Issue 12 pp 878—886

Embryonic stem cells and inducible pluripotent stem cells: two faces of the same coin?

Francesco Romeo1, , Francesco Costanzo1, , Massimiliano Agostini2, ,

  • 1 Department of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, Magna Græcia University of Catanzaro, Salvatore Venuta Campus, 88100 Catanzaro, Italy
  • 2 Medical Research Counsil, Toxicology Unit, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 9HN, UK

Received: October 26, 2012       Accepted: December 10, 2012       Published: December 11, 2012
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Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are derived from the inner cell mass of the blastocysts and are characterized by the ability to renew themselves (self-renewal) and the capability to generate all the cells within the human body. In contrast, inducible pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are generated by transfection of four transcription factors in somatic cells. Like embryonic stem cells, they are able to self-renew and differentiate. Because of these features, both ESCs and iPSCs, are under intense clinical investigation for cell-based therapy. In this review, we revisit stem cell biology and add a new layer of complexity. In particular, we will highlight some of the complexities of the system, but also where there may be therapeutic potential for modulation of intrinsic stem cells and where particular caution may be needed in terms of cell transplantation therapies.


ESCs: Embryonic stem cells; iPSCs: inducible pluripotent stem cells; MSC: Mesenchymal stem cells; Nanog: Homeobox transcription factor; Oct4: Octamer3/4; Sox2: SRY box-containing gene 2; Klf4: Kruppel-like factor 4; LIF: Leukemia Inhibitor Factor; BMP: Bone Morphogenetic Protein; FGF: Fibroblast Growth Factor; miR: microRNA.