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Int J Stem Cells. 2019 Mar 30;12(1):1-7. doi: 10.15283/ijsc18096.

Toward a Reconceptualization of Stem Cells from Cellular Plasticity.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, Navy No.971 Hospital (formerly known as No.401 Hospital) of Chinese PLA, Qingdao, China.
Department of Obstetrics, the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China.
Department of Laboratory Medicine, the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China.


The slow progress in clinical applications of stem cells and the bewildering mechanisms involved have puzzled many researchers. Recently, the increasing evidences have indicated that cells have superior plasticity in vivo or in vitro, spontaneously or under extrinsic specific inducers. The concept of stem cells may be challenged, or even replaced by the concept of cell plasticity when cell reprogramming technology is progressing rapidly. The characteristics of stem cells are manifestations of cellular plasticity. Incorrect understanding of the concept of stem cells hinders the clinical application of so-called stem cells. Understanding cellular plasticity is important for understanding and treating disease. The above issues will be discussed in detail to prove the reconceptualization of stem cells from cellular plasticity.


Dedifferentiation; Differentiation; Plasticity; Stem cells; Transdifferentiation

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