Reading from the internet, I've come across quotes that said stem cells have the potential to replicate indefinitely. However, there are other sources that say cells that are specialised will have their telomeres shortened each time the cell undergoes cell division until it renders them unable to reproduce.

I would like to ask if stem cells that replicate in terms of self-renewal will have their telomeres shortened as well to a point where they can only renew themselves a set number of times before they cannot undergo cell division anymore.

Thank you. [P.S. I'm no biology student, just a curious person seeking answers, hence do forgive me if this is supposedly a basic question. I've tried looking online for answers but it seems quite difficult to get a satisfactory or targeted answer.]


Telomere shortening is intrinsic to the process of replicating linear DNA (termed the end-replication problem). Adult stem cells that rapidly proliferate express the enzyme telomerase which is capable of lengthening shortened telomeres, thus allowing theoretically indefinite replication.

Further reading: Telomeres of Human Chromosomes


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