Difference Wiki

Hematopoietic Stem Cells vs. Progenitor Cells: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on February 18, 2024
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are multipotent cells forming all blood cells; progenitor cells are derived from HSCs, more differentiated but less versatile.

Key Differences

Hematopoietic stem cells are multipotent, capable of developing into various types of blood cells. Progenitor cells, derived from these stem cells, are more differentiated and have a narrower potential in terms of the cell types they can become.
Hematopoietic stem cells are the primary source of all blood cell types, maintaining blood cell production throughout life. Progenitor cells are an intermediate stage, where they have committed to developing into specific types of blood cells but have not yet fully differentiated.
Hematopoietic stem cells possess the unique ability to self-renew, creating identical copies of themselves. Progenitor cells have limited or no self-renewal capacity, moving closer to becoming mature blood cells.
Hematopoietic stem cells are used in transplants to treat various blood disorders, as they can regenerate the entire blood system. Progenitor cells, being more specialized, have more targeted applications in therapy, such as in regenerative medicine for specific cell types.
Hematopoietic stem cells are found in the bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, and peripheral blood. Progenitor cells are primarily located in the bone marrow, where they continue to differentiate into mature blood cells.

Comparison Chart


Multipotent, can become all blood cell types
More differentiated, limited cell types

Role in Blood Formation

Source of all blood cell types
Intermediate stage in specific blood cell development


High self-renewal capacity
Limited or no self-renewal ability

Clinical Applications

Used in transplants, regenerates blood system
Targeted applications in regenerative medicine


Bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, peripheral blood
Mainly in bone marrow

Hematopoietic Stem Cells and Progenitor Cells Definitions

Hematopoietic Stem Cells

Key cells in treating blood-related disorders.
Hematopoietic stem cells are used in therapies for leukemia patients.

Progenitor Cells

A critical stage in blood cell development from stem cells.
Progenitor cells are essential intermediaries in the formation of platelets.

Hematopoietic Stem Cells

Multipotent stem cells in the bone marrow.
Hematopoietic stem cells were harvested for a life-saving transplant.

Progenitor Cells

Cells that are derived from stem cells and differentiate into specific blood cells.
Progenitor cells in the bone marrow are developing into red blood cells.

Hematopoietic Stem Cells

Self-renewing cells that maintain blood cell production.
The body's hematopoietic stem cells continually replenish the blood supply.

Progenitor Cells

More specialized than stem cells but not fully mature blood cells.
Progenitor cells have committed to becoming lymphocytes but are not yet fully functional.

Hematopoietic Stem Cells

Source cells for all red and white blood cells and platelets.
Hematopoietic stem cells differentiate into various blood components.

Progenitor Cells

Cells with limited differentiation potential compared to stem cells.
Unlike stem cells, progenitor cells can only develop into a few cell types.

Hematopoietic Stem Cells

Cells that can develop into all types of blood cells.
Hematopoietic stem cells from the bone marrow are crucial for blood cell regeneration.

Progenitor Cells

Intermediate cells in the process of blood cell maturation.
Progenitor cells undergo several stages before becoming mature neutrophils.


How do progenitor cells differ from stem cells?

Progenitor cells are more differentiated and have a narrower potential for cell development.

Can hematopoietic stem cells self-renew?

Yes, they have a high capacity for self-renewal.

What diseases can hematopoietic stem cells treat?

They are used to treat various blood disorders, including leukemia and anemia.

How specific are progenitor cells in cell type development?

They are committed to specific cell lineages, like red blood cells or certain white blood cells.

What are progenitor cells?

Progenitor cells are derived from stem cells and differentiate into specific types of blood cells.

Where are hematopoietic stem cells found?

They are primarily found in the bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, and peripheral blood.

What are hematopoietic stem cells?

Hematopoietic stem cells are multipotent cells that can develop into all types of blood cells.

Do progenitor cells have self-renewal ability?

Progenitor cells have limited or no self-renewal ability.

How are hematopoietic stem cells harvested?

They can be harvested from bone marrow, peripheral blood, or umbilical cord blood.

What is the life span of progenitor cells?

Progenitor cells have a shorter lifespan as they progress towards becoming mature blood cells.

Are progenitor cells used in transplants?

They are not typically used in transplants due to their limited differentiation potential.

What is the importance of hematopoietic stem cells in the immune system?

They are essential for producing various immune cells, maintaining immune function.

Can hematopoietic stem cells be replicated in the lab?

There are ongoing research efforts to expand and replicate them in vitro.

How does aging affect hematopoietic stem cells?

Aging can lead to reduced functionality and changes in the types of cells produced.

What is the role of progenitor cells in therapy?

They have targeted applications in regenerative medicine for specific cell types.

Can hematopoietic stem cells differentiate into non-blood cells?

No, they are specialized to produce only blood cells.

Do progenitor cells contribute to blood cell diversity?

Yes, they are critical in the diverse formation of specific blood cell types.

Are progenitor cells involved in any genetic disorders?

Some genetic disorders affect the function or production of progenitor cells, impacting blood cell development.

What factors regulate progenitor cell differentiation?

Their differentiation is regulated by various growth factors and cellular signals.

What research is being done on hematopoietic stem cells?

Research includes understanding their regulation, improving transplant outcomes, and treating blood diseases.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

Trending Comparisons

Popular Comparisons

New Comparisons