The tumorigenicity of diploid and aneuploid human pluripotent stem cells
Volume 8, Issue 23
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December 1, 2009
Pages 3822 - 3830http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/cc.8.23.10067
Authors: Barak Blum and Nissim Benvenisty View affiliations
Human embryonic stem cells (HESCs) and induced pluripotent stem cells (HiPSCs) offer an immense potential as a source of cells for regenerative medicine. However, the ability of undifferentiated HESCs to produce tumors in vivo presents a major obstacle for the translation of this potential into clinical reality. Therefore, characterizing the nature of HESC-derived tumors, especially their malignant potential, is extremely important in order to evaluate the risk involved in their clinical use. Here we review recent observations on the tumorigenicity of human pluripotent stem cells. We argue that diploid, early passage, HESCs produce benign teratomas without undergoing genetic modifications. Conversely, HESCs that acquired genetic or epigenetic changes upon adaptation to in vitro culture can produce malignant teratocarcinomas. We discuss the molecular mechanisms of HESC tumorigenicity and suggest approaches to prevent tumor formation from these cells. We also discuss the differences in the tumorigenicity between mouse embryonic stem cells (MESCs) and HESCs, and suggest methodologies that may help to identify cellular markers for culture adapted HESCs.