Dedifferentiation describes a biological process in which cells lose their cell type-specific properties. It thus leads to a (partial) reversal of the cell differentiation that takes place during embryogenesis .
This process plays a major role , especially in the formation of tumors . Differentiated cells have a low rate of cell division, if at all, while dedifferentiated (tumor) cells have a higher rate, and thus often lead to rapid growth of tumor tissue.
During the cultivation of human or animal cells, dedifferentiation usually also occurs over time, which is usually associated with a loss of function of the cells (for example, when cells in culture produce less and less of a certain substance such as a hormone ). This represents a problem especially for tissue engineering . In the case of transdifferentiation , for example of stem cells , dedifferentiation would be desirable.
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