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Difference Between Totipotent and Pluripotent

Totipotent vs Pluripotent

Stem cells are innate cells found in every living organism particularly multicellular organisms. These organisms must be able to undergo different sexual and reproductive stages such as mitosis for the cell’s dividing purposes. These cells must be able to reproduce themselves into more stem cells. Two broad types of stem cells exist. These are the embryonic stem cell and adult stem cell.

With the advent of technology, stem cells can now be grown artificially inside laboratories. The research of stem cells was spearheaded by Ernest McCulloch and James Till during the 1960’s at the University of Toronto.

For a stem cell to be called a stem cell, it must possess two properties called self-renewal and potency. “Self-renewal” involves the ability of the cell to undergo different cycles of cell division while “potency” is defined as varying types of specialized cells.

Two of the words that will be tackled in this article under the cell potency category are totipotent and pluripotent.

“Totipotent” is also known as “omnipotent.” In this type, stem cells can vary into two types of stem cells. These are the embryonic and extraembryonic cell types. These cells came from the unification of an egg and a sperm cell. Thus, these cells can become an organism.

“Pluripotent” from the Latin word “pluris” means “more” or “many.” These type of stem cells are defined as having the ability and potential to vary and differentiate into three layers. These are the endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm. Pluripotent cells may result in an adult cell or fetal cell type.

An example of totipotent cells is a zygote which came from the unification of the egg and sperm cell and has undergone several sexual cellular divisions. An example of a pluripotent cell is an embryonic cell which has not yet developed into any other type of cell.


1.Pluripotency and totipotency is under “cellular potency” which is the ability of one cell to differentiate.
2.Pluripotent cells can potentiate into many cells while totipotent cells come from the outcome of two cells that united and have undergone mitotic division.
3.A zygote is an example of totipotent cells while an embryonic cell is an example of a pluripotent cell.

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