Copyright ©The Author(s) 2019. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Stem Cells. Jan 26, 2019; 11(1): 1-12
Published online Jan 26, 2019. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v11.i1.1
Human adult pluripotency: Facts and questions
Luminita Labusca, Kaveh Mashayekhi
Luminita Labusca, National Institute of Research and Development for Advanced Technical Physics Iasi, Iasi 700349, Romania
Kaveh Mashayekhi, Systems Biomedical Informatics and Modeling, Frankfurt D-45367, Germany
Author contributions: Labusca L conceived the manuscript and collected supportive literature; Mashayekhi K designed the bioinformatics input and revised the presented data and information.
Conflict-of-interest statement: All authors have no conflicts of interest to report.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article which was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
Corresponding author: Luminita Labusca, MD, PhD, Chief Doctor, Senior Researcher, Senior Scientist, Surgeon, National Institute of Research and Development for Advanced Technical Physics Iasi, 47 Mangeron Boulevard, Iasi 700349, Romania. llabusca@phys-iasi.ro
Telephone: +40-74-9162219
Received: October 13, 2018
Peer-review started: October 15, 2018
First decision: November 1, 2018
Revised: November 6, 2018
Accepted: January 10, 2019
Article in press: January 10, 2019
Published online: January 26, 2019

Cellular reprogramming and induced pluripotent stem cell (IPSC) technology demonstrated the plasticity of adult cell fate, opening a new era of cellular modelling and introducing a versatile therapeutic tool for regenerative medicine. While IPSCs are already involved in clinical trials for various regenerative purposes, critical questions concerning their medium- and long-term genetic and epigenetic stability still need to be answered. Pluripotent stem cells have been described in the last decades in various mammalian and human tissues (such as bone marrow, blood and adipose tissue). We briefly describe the characteristics of human-derived adult stem cells displaying in vitro and/or in vivo pluripotency while highlighting that the common denominators of their isolation or occurrence within tissue are represented by extreme cellular stress. Spontaneous cellular reprogramming as a survival mechanism favoured by senescence and cellular scarcity could represent an adaptative mechanism. Reprogrammed cells could initiate tissue regeneration or tumour formation dependent on the microenvironment characteristics. Systems biology approaches and lineage tracing within living tissues can be used to clarify the origin of adult pluripotent stem cells and their significance for regeneration and disease.

Keywords: Human adult pluripotent stem cells, Induced pluripotent stem cells, Reprogramming, Cellular stress

Core tip: Several types of human adult pluripotent stem cells have been described. Their origin and role remain largely unknown. The elucidation of possible stress-induced pluripotency phenomena could enable regenerative as well as tumour-suppressive therapies.