Since the derivation of the first pluripotent embryonic stem cell lines in mice in the early 1980s, a plethora of lines has been obtained from various mammalian species including rodents, lagomorphs and primates. These lines are distinguished by their molecular and functional characteristics and correspond to the different pluripotency states observed in the developing embryo between the "blastocyst" and "gastrula" stages. These cell lines are positioned along a gradient, or continuum of pluripotency, the ends of which are epitomized by the naïve and primed states, respectively. Conventional human pluripotent stem cells self-renew in the primed state of pluripotency (ie, at the bottom of the gradient), a position that is undoubtedly the cause of their natural instability. Recent studies aim to generate naive human pluripotent stem cells (at the top of the gradient). The importance of this research in the perspective of medical applications will be discussed.
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