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Mol Neurobiol. 2002 Jun;25(3):233-44.

Mechanisms underlying cytokine-mediated cell-fate regulation in the nervous system.

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  • 1Department of Cell Fate Modulation, Institute of Molecular Embryology and Genetics, Kumamoto University, Japan.


Neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes, the three major cell types in the nervous system, are generated from common neural stem cells during development. Recent studies have provided evidence that neural stem cells are preserved in the adult brain, where, until recently, neurogenesis had not been considered to take place. The mechanisms that gOvern the fate of neural stem-cell determination have yet to be clarified. It is becoming apparent that soluble protein mediators referred to as cytokines play critical roles in cell-fate determination. For instance, bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) alter the fate of developing brain cells from a neurogenic differentiation to an astrocytic one. Different types of cytokines sometimes cooperate to modulate differentiation. For example, the interleukin-6 (IL-6) family cytokines and the BMP family cytokines act in synergy to elaborate astrocyte differentiation. In this review, we focus on recent progress that addresses the molecular mechanisms whereby cytokines regulate the fate of cells in neural lineages. We also discuss possible clinical applications of these findings to minimize the undesirable gliogenesis that occurs after neural stem-cell implantation and nerve injury.

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