What is the Difference Between Fetal and Embryonic Stem Cells

The main difference between fetal and embryonic stem cells is that the fetal stem cells are more differentiated whereas the embryonic stem cells are less differentiated. Furthermore, the fetal stem cells can be either pluripotent or multipotent while the embryonic stem cells are pluripotent. 

Fetal and embryonic stem cells are two types of stem cells that occur during the development of the zygote into a multicellular organism. Generally, stem cells are a type of undifferentiated cells that can grow and multiply, replacing damaged or dead cells. 

Key Areas Covered 

1. What are Fetal Stem Cells
     – Definition, Degree of Differentiation, Potency
2. What are Embryonic Stem Cells
     – Definition, Degree of Differentiation, Potency
3. What are the Similarities Between Fetal and Embryonic Stem Cells
     – Outline of Common Features
4. What is the Difference Between Fetal and Embryonic Stem Cells
     – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms 

Embryonic Stem Cells, Fetal Stem Cells, Multipotent, Pluripotent, Progenitor Cells, Three Germ Layers 

Difference Between Fetal and Embryonic Stem Cells- Comparison Summary

What are Fetal Stem Cells 

Fetal stem cells are the stem cells found in the fetus. They differentiate from the embryonic stem cells. Since embryonic stem cells differentiate into the cells of the three germ layers, fetal stem cells are a somewhat differentiated type of stem cells. Therefore, they are a type of multipotent stem cells that can serve as the progenitor cells of the corresponding germ layers. Generally, fetal stem cells occur in the middle of the differentiation process of embryonic stem cells into specialized cells of the body. 

What are Embryonic Stem Cells 

Embryonic stem cells are the stem cells found in the early stages of the embryo. Furthermore, the fusion of male and female gametes forms the zygote that undergoes mitotic divisions to produce a mass of cells called the inner cell mass. Here, the inner cell mass is made up of embryonic stem cells. These cells are pluripotent and can differentiate into any type of specialized cells in the body of the multicellular organism. Subsequently, the embryonic stem cells in the inner cell mass differentiate into the cells in the three germ layers: endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm.  

What is the Difference Between Fetal and Embryonic Stem Cells

Figure 1: Stem Cells

However, the growth of embryonic stem cells occurs relatively easily in cell culture. The laboratory-grown embryonic stem cells can be induced to differentiate into many types of specialized cells including nerve cells, heart cells, insulin-producing cells, etc.  

Similarities Between Fetal and Embryonic Stem Cells 

  • Fetal and embryonic stem cells are two types of stem cells that occur during the development of the zygote into a multicellular organism. 
  • Both types of stem cells are capable of growing and multiplying in order to produce new cells to differentiate into different types of cells in the multicellular organisms. 
  • Also, both types of cells can differentiate at least into several types of specialized cells. 

Difference Between Fetal and Embryonic Stem Cells 

Definition 

Fetal stem cells refer to the cells derived from a fetus and retain the ability to divide, proliferate, and provide progenitor cells, which can differentiate into specialized cells. Embryonic stem cells refer to the stem cells derived from the undifferentiated inner mass cells of a human embryo. Thus, this is the fundamental difference between fetal and embryonic stem cells.

Degree of Differentiation 

The degree of differentiation is the main difference between fetal and embryonic stem cells. Fetal stem cells are more differentiated than the embryonic stem cells. 

Potency 

Moreover, fetal stem cells are mostly multipotent while embryonic stem cells are pluripotent. Hence, this is another important difference between fetal and embryonic stem cells.

Differentiation 

Furthermore, fetal stem cells differentiate into different types of progenitor cells while embryonic stem cells differentiate into the cells in the three germ layers. 

Importance 

One other difference between fetal and embryonic stem cells is that the embryonic stem cells can be induced to differentiate into any type of specialized cells in the body, while fetal stem cells can be induced to differentiate into the specialized cells of the corresponding germ layer. 

Conclusion 

Fetal stem cells are the stem cells in the fetus. Since they are multipotent, fetal stem cells are more differentiated. On the other hand, embryonic stem cells are the stem cells in the embryo. They are pluripotent stem cells. Moreover, three germ layers develop from the embryonic stem cells while progenitor cells develop from the fetal stem cells. The main difference between fetal and embryonic stem cells is the degree of differentiation.

References:

1. “Stem Cell FAQs.” Bedford Stem Cell Research FoundationAvailable Here

Image Courtesy:

1. “Stem cells diagram” By Mike Jones – From English Wikipedia. Original description page is/was here.Comment: The source of pluripotent stems cells from developing embryos. Original work by Mike Jones for Wikipedia. (CC BY-SA 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Lakna

Lakna, a graduate in Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, is a Molecular Biologist and has a broad and keen interest in the discovery of nature related things

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