(developmental biology) A cellular process in which a differentiated cell loses its special form or function, or reverts to an earlier developmental stage
Dedifferentiation refers to a cellular process in which a differentiated cell loses its special form or function, or reverts to an earlier developmental stage. Cell differentiation is a process in which the cell acquires modifications in form and function. As a result, the cell becomes another cell type that is specialized in carrying out a particular rather than a generalized function. An example of cell differentiation is a progenitor cell that differentiates into a mature cell, such as hematopoietic stem cells from the bone marrow that differentiate into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Another is the mesenchymal stem cells from the bone marrow that give rise to stromal cells, fat cells, and types of bone cells. The modifications in form and function are attributed to the highly controlled changes in gene expression. A cell that underwent differentiation is described as differentiated. However, there are differentiated cells capable of reverting to an earlier developmental stage. This process is often seen in lower life forms such as worms and amphibians as a regenerative mechanism. The term dedifferentiated is used to describe a mature cell that returns to a less mature state and performs a more generalized function.