Multipotent stem cells have the same basic features of all stem cells. As with all stem cells multipotent stem cells are unspecialized cells that have the ability to: Self-renew for long periods of time and differentiate into specialized cells with specific functions

A multipotent stem cell can give rise to other types of cells but it is limited in its ability to differentiate. These other types of cells are also limited in numbers. Examples of multipotent stem cells include those in the brain that give rise to different neural cells and glia or haematopoietic cells, which can give rise to different blood cell types, but they can’t create brain cells. Bone marrow also contains multipotent stem cells that give rise to all blood cell types but not other cells.

Hence, adult stem cells are considered multipotent because their specialization potential is limited to one or more cell lines. However, a multipotent stem cell known as a mesenchymal stem cell can give rise to several cell types. This particular stem cell has been found to give rise to bone, muscle, cartilage, fat, and other similar tissues.

Multipotent stem cells are essentially committed to produce specific cell types. They vary from stem cells such as pluripotent ones which can give rise to almost any cell type, or totipotent ones which can give rise to any cell, including the potential to create a complete organism. Pluripotent stem cells actually undergo specialization into multipotent stem cells, and then multipotent stem cells give rise to cells with a specific purpose and function. Multipotent stem cells can be likened to a family-although they do give rise to different cells, the cells themselves are within a certain family and therefore, are closely related.


Murnaghan, I. (2016). Multipotent stem cells. Explore Stem Cells. Retrieved from