Engineering cell fate for tissue regeneration by in vivo transdifferentiation

Changes in cell identity occur in adult mammalian organisms but are rare and often linked to disease. Research in the last few decades has thrown light on how to manipulate cell fate, but the conversion of a particular cell type into another within a living organism (also termed in vivo transdifferentiation) has only been recently achieved in a limited number of tissues. Although the therapeutic promise of this strategy for tissue regeneration and repair is exciting, important efficacy and safety concerns will need to be addressed before it becomes a reality in the clinical practice. Here, we review the most relevant in vivo transdifferentiation studies in adult mammalian animal models, offering a critical assessment of this potentially powerful strategy for regenerative medicine.