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Exp Cell Res. 2003 Oct 1;289(2):378-83.

Stem cells from the adult human brain develop into functional neurons in culture.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Section of Neurosurgery, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.


Recent research communications indicate that the adult human brain contains undifferentiated, multipotent precursors or neural stem cells. It is not known, however, whether these cells can develop into fully functional neurons. We cultured cells from the adult human ventricular wall as neurospheres and passed them at the individual cell level to secondary neurospheres. Following dissociation and plating, the cells developed the antigen profile of the three main cell types in the brain (GFAP, astrocytes; O2, oligodendrocytes; and beta-III-tubulin/NeuN, neurons). More importantly, the cells developed the electrophysiological profiles of neurons and glia. Over a period of 3 weeks, neuron-like cells went through the same phases as neurons do during development in vivo, including up-regulation of inward Na+ -currents, drop in input resistance, shortening of the action potential, and hyperpolarization of the cell membrane. The cells developed overshooting action potentials with a mature configuration. Recordings in voltage-clamp mode displayed both the fast inactivating TTX-sensitive sodium current (INa) underlying the rising phase of the action potential and the two potassium currents terminating the action potential in mature neurons (IA and IK, sensitive to 4-AP and TEA, respectively). We have thus demonstrated that the human ventricular wall contains multipotent cells that can differentiate into functionally mature neurons.

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