Send to

Choose Destination
Semin Reprod Med. 2006 Nov;24(5):304-13.

Embryonic germ cells: when germ cells become stem cells.

Author information

Institute for Cell Engineering, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Embryonic germ cells (EGCs) are pluripotent stem cells derived from primordial germ cells (PGCs). PGCs are progenitors of adult gametes, which diverge from the somatic lineage between late embryonic to early fetal development. First derived in the mouse, EGCs have also been derived from human, chicken, and pig. As pluripotent stem cells, EGCs demonstrate long-term self-renewal via clonal expansion in an undifferentiated state, and differentiate in vitro to form embryoid bodies containing cells that represent all three germ layers as well as mixed cell populations of less differentiated progenitors and precursors. This is also demonstrated in vivo by their formation into experimentally induced teratocarcinomas following transplantation. Furthermore, mice, pig, and chicken EGCs have also been shown to contribute to experimentally produced chimeric animals, including germline transmission. Importantly, EGCs demonstrate normal and stable karyotypes as well as normal patterns of genomic imprinting, including X-inactivation. Transplantation studies have begun in a variety of models in hopes of defining their potential use to treat a wide variety of human conditions, including diabetes and urological and neurological disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart, New York
Loading ...
Support Center