Trophoblast stem cells (TSCs) retain the capacity to self-renew indefinitely and harbour the potential to differentiate into all trophoblast subtypes of the placenta. Recent studies have shown how signalling cascades integrate with transcription factor circuits to govern the fine balance between TSC self-renewal and differentiation. In addition, breakthroughs in reprogramming strategies have enabled the generation of TSCs from fibroblasts, opening up exciting new avenues that may allow the isolation of this stem cell type from other species, notably humans. Here, we review these recent advances in light of their importance for understanding placental pathologies and developing personalised medicine approaches for pregnancy complications.
The authors declare no competing or financial interests.
Our work is supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC); the Medical Research Council (MRC) UK; the Wellcome Trust; and the Centre for Trophoblast Research, University of Cambridge, UK. P.A.L. was the recipient of a Next-Generation Fellowship awarded by the Centre for Trophoblast Research, University of Cambridge, UK.