AAT Bioquest

What are the differences between progenitor cells and stem cells?

Posted November 6, 2023


Basis of differentiation

Progenitor cells

Stem cells


These cells are unipotent or multipotent stem cells which originate from stem cells; they differentiate to form specialized cell types 

Are undifferentiated cells of a multicellular organism which that able to infinitely multiply into more cells of the same type

Cellular potency

Are either unipotent or oligopotent

Can either be multipotent, pluripotent, or totipotent

Degree of differentiation

Are somewhat differentiated

Are completely undifferentiated


Have a limited self-renewal ability

Are easily able to undergo self-renewal and divide into identical stem cells


Found in specific tissues and organs

Found in many different types of tissues and organs throughout the body


Are derived from stem cells which then differentiate again to form specialized cell types

Originate from embryos or adult tissues


Their primary function is to replenish dead or damaged cells

Their function is to regenerate damaged tissues and organs

Additional resources

Stem and progenitor cells in skeletal development

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