Parthenogenesis in mammals: Pros and cons in pluripotent cell derivation

Georgia Pennarossa, Alessio Paffoni, Guido Ragni, Fulvio Gandolfi, Tiziana A L Brevini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Embryonic stem cells (ESCs) represent a useful tool for cell therapy studies, however the use of embryos for their derivation give rise to ethical, religious and legal problems when applied to the human. During the last years parthenogenesis has been proposed as an alternative source to obtain ESCs. Based on the fact that parthenotes avoid many concerns surrounding the "ad hoc" in vitro production and following destruction of viable human embryos. Unfortunately many aspects related to parthenogenetic cell biology are not fully understood and still need to be elucidated. In this review we describe advantages and limits of these cells. We discuss their typical ESC morphology and high telomerase activity, which disappears after differentiation. We examine the pluripotency signature that they share with bi-parental ESCs. We review their high differentiation plasticity that allow for the derivation of several mature cell type populations when we expose these cells to adequate conditions. On the other hand, in-depth analysis demonstrated chromosome mal-segregation and altered mechanisms controlling centriole arrangement and mitotic spindle formation in these cells. We hypothesize their monoparental origin as one of the possible cause of these anomalies and suggest a great caution if a therapeutic use is considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)770-775
Number of pages6
JournalCentral European Journal of Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • Centriole
  • Embryonic Stem Cell
  • Parthenogenesis
  • Pluripotency

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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