Pluripotent stem cells (PSCs) lie at the heart of modern regenerative medicine due to their properties of unlimited self-renewal in vitro and their ability to differentiate into cell types representative of the three embryonic germ layers-mesoderm, ectoderm and endoderm. The derivation of induced PSCs bypasses ethical concerns associated with the use of human embryonic stem cells and also enables personalized cell-based therapies. To exploit their regenerative potential, it is essential to have a firm understanding of the molecular processes associated with their induction from somatic cells. This understanding serves two purposes: first, to enable efficient, reliable and cost-effective production of excellent quality induced PSCs and, second, to enable the derivation of safe, good manufacturing practice-grade transplantable donor cells. Here, we review the reprogramming process of somatic cells into induced PSCs and associated mechanisms with emphasis on self-renewal, epigenetic control, mitochondrial bioenergetics, sub-states of pluripotency, naive ground state, naive and primed. A meta-analysis identified genes expressed exclusively in the inner cell mass and in the naive but not in the primed pluripotent state. We propose these as additional biomarkers defining naive PSCs.This article is part of the theme issue 'Designer human tissue: coming to a lab near you'.
Keywords: epigenetics; iPSC; naive; pluripotency; primed; urine.
© 2018 The Author(s).