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Methods Mol Biol. 2006;325:181-205.

Pluripotency: capacity for in vitro differentiation of undifferentiated embryonic stem cells.

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  • 1In Vitro Differentiation Group, Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK), Gatersleben, Germany.


Embryonic stem (ES) cells, the pluripotent cells of early embryos have been successfully cultured as undifferentiated cells. The cells are characterized by two unique properties, unlimited self-renewal capacity and the ability to differentiate into all cells of the body. Because of the high in vitro differentiation potential, ES cells have been used as model system in cell and developmental biology. Here we present methods that use mouse embryonic stem cells for the in vitro differentiation and characterization of neuronal, cardiac, pancreatic and hepatic cells, derivatives of the ectoderm, mesoderm and endoderm, respectively. In the future, differentiated cells may be also generated from human ES cells by cultivation of early embryos or from reprogrammed cells derived by nuclear transfer. Such cells could represent potential sources for tissue repair of serious human diseases.

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