Accessing the human trophoblast stem cell state from pluripotent and somatic cells

Rowan M. Karvas, Laurent David, Thorold W. Theunissen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Trophoblasts are specialized epithelial cells that perform critical functions during blastocyst implantation and mediate maternal–fetal communication during pregnancy. However, our understanding of human trophoblast biology remains limited since access to first-trimester placental tissue is scarce, especially between the first and fourth weeks of development. Moreover, animal models inadequately recapitulate unique aspects of human placental physiology. In the mouse system, the isolation of self-renewing trophoblast stem cells has provided a valuable in vitro model system of placental development, but the derivation of analogous human trophoblast stem cells (hTSCs) has remained elusive until recently. Building on a landmark study reporting the isolation of bona fide hTSCs from blastocysts and first-trimester placental tissues in 2018, several groups have developed methods to derive hTSCs from pluripotent and somatic cell sources. Here we review the biological and molecular properties that define authentic hTSCs, the trophoblast potential of distinct pluripotent states, and methods for inducing hTSCs in somatic cells by direct reprogramming. The generation of hTSCs from pluripotent and somatic cells presents exciting opportunities to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of human placental development and the etiology of pregnancy-related diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number604
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Organoids
  • Placenta
  • Pluripotency
  • Reprogramming
  • Stem cells
  • Trophoblast


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