Evolving Definition of Adult Stem/Progenitor Cells

  • Deepa BhartiyaEmail author
  • Subhan Ali Mohammad
  • Ahona Guha
  • Pushpa Singh
  • Diksha Sharma
  • Ankita Kaushik


Adult stem cells (ASCs) comprise a rare population of cells that are expected to be (i) quiescent (ii) undergo asymmetric cell divisions (ACD) to self-renew and give rise to tissue committed ‘progenitors’ and (iii) exhibit ‘plasticity’ implying the ability to differentiate into different lineages. Unlike embryonic stem cells which are ‘immortal’, can differentiate into 200 odd cell types and are defined by their origin (inner cell mass of the blastocyst), ASCs share no such definitive means of characterization, are set aside during development, are lineage restricted and are restrained from proliferation/differentiation by their tissue-specific niche/microenvironment. Clonal expansion is another property of stem cells which implies that they can give rise to a sphere of cells by rapid proliferation and incomplete cytokinesis resulting in the formation of spheres like mammosphere, neurosphere, cardiosphere etc. As a result, two distinct populations comprising quiescent and actively...



Contributions of all working in the field is acknowledged.


Author acknowledges financial support from Indian Council of Medical Research Government of India, New Delhi, INDIA.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Authors declare no conflicts of interest.


  1. 1.
    Li, L., & Clevers, H. (2010). Coexistence of quiescent and active adult stem cells in mammals. Science, 327, 542–545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Clevers, H., & Watt, F. M. (2018). Defining adult stem cells by function, not by phenotype. Annual Review of Biochemistry, 87, 1015–1027.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ratajczak, M. Z., Ratajczak, J., & Kucia, M. (2019). Very small embryonic-like stem cells (VSELs). Circulation Research, 124(2), 208–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Smadja, D. M. (2017). Bone marrow very small embryonic-like stem cells: New generation of autologous cell therapy soon ready for prime time? Stem Cell Reviews, 13(2), 198–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Shaikh, A., Anand, S., Kapoor, S., Ganguly, R., & Bhartiya, D. (2017). Mouse bone marrow VSELs exhibit differentiation into three embryonic germ lineages and germ & hematopoietic cells in culture. Stem Cell Reviews, 13(2), 202–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bhartiya, D., Patel, H., Ganguly, R., Shaikh, A., Shukla, Y., Sharma, D., & Singh, P. (2018). Novel insights into adult and cancer stem cell biology. Stem Cells and Development, 27, 1527–1539.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Ratajczak, M. Z., Bujko, K., Mack, A., Kucia, M., & Ratajczak, J. (2018). Cancer from the perspective of stem cells and misappropriated tissue regeneration mechanisms. Leukemia., 32(12), 2519–2526.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Virant-Klun, I., & Stimpfel, M. (2016). Novel population of small tumour-initiating stem cells in the ovaries of women with borderline ovarian cancer. Scientific Reports, 6, 34730. Scholar
  9. 9.
    Bhartiya, D. (2017). Pluripotent stem cells in adult tissues: Struggling to be acknowledged over two decades. Stem Cell Reviews, 13(6), 713–724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Albertini, D. F., & Gleicher, N. (2015). A detour in the quest for oogonial stem cells: Methods matter. Nature Medicine, 21(10), 1126–1127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bhartiya, D. Clinical translation of stem cells for regenerative medicine- a comprehensive analysis. Accepted in Circulation Research.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stem Cell Biology DepartmentICMR-National Institute for Research in Reproductive HealthMumbaiIndia

Personalised recommendations