Difference Between Pluripotent and Multipotent Stem Cell

Stem cells are cells that have the ability to differentiate into other cell types, making them useful in a variety of medical applications. There are several different types of stem cells, but two of the most commonly discussed are pluripotent and multipotent stem cells. While both types of stem cells have the ability to differentiate into other cell types, there are important differences between them.

What is Pluripotent Stem Cell?

Pluripotent stem cells are cells that have the ability to differentiate into any of the three germ layers of the developing embryo: ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm. These cells are derived from the inner cell mass of the blastocyst, which is the structure that forms shortly after fertilization. Pluripotent stem cells are also commonly found in certain types of tumors, such as teratomas.

One of the key features of pluripotent stem cells is their ability to differentiate into any cell type in the body. This makes them particularly useful in regenerative medicine, where they can be used to replace damaged or diseased tissue. For example, pluripotent stem cells can be used to generate new heart muscle cells to repair damage caused by a heart attack, or to create new insulin-producing cells to treat diabetes.

How they are obtained − Natural pluripotent stem cells are called embryonic stem cells. These can be extracted from the cell mass of an embryo before it has attached to the uterus. Methods of cell reprogramming that have been developed by scientists can also allow researchers to artificially create pluripotent stem cells from adult stem cells.

Applications − Scientists hope to be able to treat many human diseases using pluripotent stem cell, which is one reason they have been artificially inducing multipotent stem cells to become pluripotent. However, there has not yet been any approval of the use of pluripotent stem cells to treat any human illnesses. The general theory is that pluripotent cells can be used to replace diseased cells and thus can help people who are ill with certain conditions for which conventional treatments have failed.

What is Multipotent Stem Cell?

Multipotent stem cells, on the other hand, are cells that have the ability to differentiate into a limited number of cell types. These cells are typically found in adult tissues, such as bone marrow, fat tissue, or blood vessels. Multipotent stem cells are responsible for maintaining and repairing the tissues in which they are found.

While multipotent stem cells are more limited in their differentiation potential than pluripotent stem cells, they are still very useful in regenerative medicine. For example, mesenchymal stem cells, which are a type of multipotent stem cell found in bone marrow and other tissues, have been used to treat a variety of conditions, including osteoarthritis and spinal cord injury.

How they are obtained − Multipotent stem cells can be extracted from adults from various tissues of the body. Most commonly a needle is used to remove stem cells from the bone marrow of a donor when a bone marrow transplant is planned. These cells can be transferred into a compatible recipient. Stem cells can also be removed from cord blood after a person has given birth. Sometimes the cord blood it stored in case these cells are needed later.

Applications − Transplants of bone marrow stem cells are commonly done to treat blood cancers such as leukemia. Bone marrow transplants can sometimes provide a cure for people with blood cancer since the person can then being to produce normal blood cells once their bone marrow has been replaced with healthy stem cells. Researchers also suggest that heart stem cells may be of use in the future to treat various cardiac conditions. The idea is that the cells can regenerate tissue that has been destroyed.

Differences: Pluripotent and Multipotent Stem Cell

¬There are several differences between pluripotent and multipotent stem cells. Pluripotent stem cells are typically more difficult to isolate and grow in culture than multipotent stem cells. Additionally, pluripotent stem cells have a higher risk of forming tumors when transplanted into the body, whereas multipotent stem cells have a lower risk of this complication.

The following table highlights the major differences between Pluripotent and Multipotent Stem Cell −





A pluripotent stem cell is an undifferentiated cell that can really develop into any cell of the body.

A multipotent stem cell is an undifferentiated cell that can develop into one of a certain number of different types of cells.

Differentiation ability

Pluripotent stem cells can produce any cells of the body.

Multipotent stem cells can only produce a limited number of cells.

Found in the embryo

The pluripotent stem cells are always found in the embryo.

The multipotent stem cells are only sometimes found in the embryo at a later stage of tissue differentiation.

Found in the adult

Adult individuals never have pluripotent stem cells present.

Adult individuals always have multipotent stem cells that are found in various tissues.

Can form any of the germ layer cells

Pluripotent stem cells can always form any of the cells of the ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm germ layers.

Multipotent stem cells can’t form any of the cells of the three germ layers.

Can naturally form another stem cell type

Pluripotent cells by their very nature can produce other stem cells including multipotent cells.

Multipotent cells cannot naturally produce other stem cells but can be artificially made to form pluripotent cells.


In conclusion, both pluripotent and multipotent stem cells have important roles to play in regenerative medicine. While pluripotent stem cells have a broader differentiation potential, they also come with a higher risk of complications. Multipotent stem cells are more limited in their differentiation potential, but they are also easier to obtain and have a lower risk of tumor formation.

Ultimately, the choice of which type of stem cell to use will depend on the specific medical application and the needs of the patient.

Updated on: 19-Apr-2023


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