Progenitor cell

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Neural progenitors (green) in olfactory bulb with astrocytes (blue).
Example of the pattern of division of a progenitor cell (PC) which results in the production of an intermediate progenitor cell (IPC). Both cells later produce one or two neural cells (N).

A progenitor cell is a biological cell that can differentiate into a specific cell type. Stem cells and progenitor cells have this ability in common. However, stem cells are less specified than progenitor cells. Progenitor cells can only differentiate into their "target" cell type.[1] The most important difference between stem cells and progenitor cells is that stem cells can replicate indefinitely, whereas progenitor cells can divide only a limited number of times. Controversy about the exact definition remains and the concept is still evolving.[2]

The terms "progenitor cell" and "stem cell" are sometimes equated.[3]


Most progenitors are identified as oligopotent. In this point of view, they can compare to adult stem cells, but progenitors are said to be in a further stage of cell differentiation. They are "midway" between stem cells and fully differentiated cells. The kind of potency they have depends on the type of their "parent" stem cell and also on their niche. Some research found that progenitor cells were mobile and that these progenitor cells could move through the body and migrate towards the tissue where they are needed.[4] Many properties are shared by adult stem cells and progenitor cells.


Progenitor cells have become a hub for research on a few different fronts. Current research on progenitor cells focuses on two different applications: regenerative medicine and cancer biology. Research on regenerative medicine has focused on progenitor cells, and stem cells, because their cellular senescence contributes largely to the process of aging.[5] Research on cancer biology focuses on the impact of progenitor cells on cancer responses, and the way that these cells tie into the immune response.[6]

The natural aging of cells, called their cellular senescence, is one of the main contributors to aging on an organismal level.[7] There are a few different ideas to the cause behind why aging happens on a cellular level. Telomere length has been shown to positively correlate to longevity.[8][9] Increased circulation of progenitor cells in the body has also positively correlated to increased longevity and regenerative processes.[10] Endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) are one of the main focuses of this field. They are valuable cells because they directly precede endothelial cells, but have characteristics of stem cells. These cells can produce differentiated cells to replenish the supply lost in the natural process of aging, which makes them a target for aging therapy research.[11] This field of regenerative medicine and aging research is still currently evolving.

Recent studies have shown that haematopoietic progenitor cells contribute to immune responses in the body. They have been shown to respond a range of inflammatory cytokines. They also contribute to fighting infections by providing a renewal of the depleted resources caused by the stress of an infection on the immune system. Inflammatory cytokines and other factors released during infections will activate haematopoietic progenitor cells to differentiate to replenish the lost resources.[12]


The characterization or the defining principle of progenitor cells, in order to separate them from others, is based on the different cell markers rather than their morphological appearance.[13]

Development of the human cerebral cortices[edit]

Before embryonic day 40 (E40), progenitor cells generate other progenitor cells; after that period, progenitor cells produce only dissimilar mesenchymal stem cell daughters. The cells from a single progenitor cell form a proliferative unit that creates one cortical column; these columns contain a variety of neurons with different shapes.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lawrence BE, Horton PM (2013). Progenitor Cells : Biology, Characterization and Potential Clinical Applications. Nova Science Publishers, Inc. p. 26.
  2. ^ Seaberg RM, van der Kooy D (March 2003). "Stem and progenitor cells: the premature desertion of rigorous definitions". Trends in Neurosciences. 26 (3): 125–31. doi:10.1016/S0166-2236(03)00031-6. PMID 12591214. S2CID 18639810.
  3. ^ "progenitor cell""at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  4. ^ Badami, Chirag D.; Livingston, David H.; Sifri, Ziad C.; Caputo, Francis J.; Bonilla, Larissa; Mohr, Alicia M.; Deitch, Edwin A. (September 2007). "Hematopoietic Progenitor Cells Mobilize to the Site of Injury After Trauma and Hemorrhagic Shock in Rats". Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care. 63 (3): 596–602. doi:10.1097/TA.0b013e318142d231. ISSN 0022-5282. PMID 18073606.
  5. ^ Ahmed AS, Sheng MH, Wasnik S, Baylink DJ, Lau KW (February 2017). "Effect of aging on stem cells". World Journal of Experimental Medicine. 7 (1): 1–10. doi:10.5493/wjem.v7.i1.1. PMC 5316899. PMID 28261550.
  6. ^ Wildes TJ, Flores CT, Mitchell DA (February 2019). "Concise Review: Modulating Cancer Immunity with Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells". Stem Cells. 37 (2): 166–175. doi:10.1002/stem.2933. PMC 6368859. PMID 30353618.
  7. ^ Gilbert, Scott F.; Barresi, Michael J. F. (15 June 2016). Developmental biology (Eleventh ed.). Sunderland, Massachusetts: Sinauer. ISBN 978-1-60535-470-5. OCLC 945169933.
  8. ^ Boccardi V, Herbig U (August 2012). "Telomerase gene therapy: a novel approach to combat aging". EMBO Molecular Medicine. 4 (8): 685–7. doi:10.1002/emmm.201200246. PMC 3494068. PMID 22585424.
  9. ^ Bernardes de Jesus B, Vera E, Schneeberger K, Tejera AM, Ayuso E, Bosch F, Blasco MA (August 2012). "Telomerase gene therapy in adult and old mice delays aging and increases longevity without increasing cancer". EMBO Molecular Medicine. 4 (8): 691–704. doi:10.1002/emmm.201200245. PMC 3494070. PMID 22585399.
  10. ^ Biehl JK, Russell B (March 2009). "Introduction to stem cell therapy". The Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing. 24 (2): 98–103, quiz 104–5. doi:10.1097/JCN.0b013e318197a6a5. PMC 4104807. PMID 19242274.
  11. ^ Balistreri CR (2017). Endothelial progenitor cells : a new real hope?. Cham: Springer. ISBN 978-3-319-55107-4. OCLC 988870936.
  12. ^ King KY, Goodell MA (September 2011). "Inflammatory modulation of HSCs: viewing the HSC as a foundation for the immune response". Nature Reviews. Immunology. 11 (10): 685–92. doi:10.1038/nri3062. PMC 4154310. PMID 21904387.
  13. ^ Morgan JE, Partridge TA (August 2003). "Muscle satellite cells". The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology. 35 (8): 1151–6. doi:10.1016/s1357-2725(03)00042-6. PMID 12757751.
  14. ^ Noctor SC, Martínez-Cerdeño V, Kriegstein AR (May 2007). "Contribution of intermediate progenitor cells to cortical histogenesis". Archives of Neurology. 64 (5): 639–42. doi:10.1001/archneur.64.5.639. PMID 17502462.
  15. ^ a b Awong G, Zuniga-Pflucker JC (June 2011). "Thymus-bound: the many features of T cell progenitors". Frontiers in Bioscience. 3 (3): 961–9. doi:10.2741/200. PMID 21622245.
  16. ^ Barber CL, Iruela-Arispe ML (April 2006). "The ever-elusive endothelial progenitor cell: identities, functions and clinical implications". Pediatric Research. 59 (4 Pt 2): 26R–32R. doi:10.1203/01.pdr.0000203553.46471.18. PMID 16549545.
  17. ^ Carotta S, Nutt SL (March 2008). "Losing B cell identity". BioEssays. 30 (3): 203–7. doi:10.1002/bies.20725. PMID 18293359.
  18. ^ Monk KR, Feltri ML, Taveggia C (2015). "New insights on Schwann cell development". Glia. 63 (8): 1376–93. doi:10.1002/glia.22852. PMC 4470834. PMID 25921593.
  19. ^ Aggarwal, T; Hoeber, J; Ivert, P; Vasylovska, S; Kozlova, EN (July 2017). "Boundary Cap Neural Crest Stem Cells Promote Survival of Mutant SOD1 Motor Neurons". Neurotherapeutics. 14 (3): 773–783. doi:10.1007/s13311-016-0505-8. PMC 5509618. PMID 28070746.
  20. ^ Mason JO, Price DJ (October 2016). "Building brains in a dish: Prospects for growing cerebral organoids from stem cells". Neuroscience. 334: 105–118. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.07.048. PMID 27506142.