Adult cell plasticity in vivo: de-differentiation and transdifferentiation are back in style

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2016 Jul;17(7):413-25. doi: 10.1038/nrm.2016.24. Epub 2016 Mar 16.


Biologists have long been intrigued by the possibility that cells can change their identity, a phenomenon known as cellular plasticity. The discovery that terminally differentiated cells can be experimentally coaxed to become pluripotent has invigorated the field, and recent studies have demonstrated that changes in cell identity are not limited to the laboratory. Specifically, certain adult cells retain the capacity to de-differentiate or transdifferentiate under physiological conditions, as part of an organ's normal injury response. Recent studies have highlighted the extent to which cell plasticity contributes to tissue homeostasis, findings that have implications for cell-based therapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Dedifferentiation*
  • Cell Transdifferentiation*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Regeneration
  • Signal Transduction