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Cancer Res. 2007 Jun 15;67(12):5727-36.

CD133 is not present on neurogenic astrocytes in the adult subventricular zone, but on embryonic neural stem cells, ependymal cells, and glioblastoma cells.

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  • 1Lund Strategic Research Center for Stem Cell Biology, Lund University, Sweden.


Human brain tumor stem cells have been enriched using antibodies against the surface protein CD133. An antibody recognizing CD133 also served to isolate normal neural stem cells from fetal human brain, suggesting a possible lineage relationship between normal neural and brain tumor stem cells. Whether CD133-positive brain tumor stem cells can be derived from CD133-positive neural stem or progenitor cells still requires direct experimental evidence, and an important step toward such investigations is the identification and characterization of normal CD133-presenting cells in neurogenic regions of the embryonic and adult brain. Here, we present evidence that CD133 is a marker for embryonic neural stem cells, an intermediate radial glial/ependymal cell type in the early postnatal stage, and for ependymal cells in the adult brain, but not for neurogenic astrocytes in the adult subventricular zone. Our findings suggest two principal possibilities for the origin of brain tumor stem cells: a derivation from CD133-expressing cells, which are normally not present in the adult brain (embryonic neural stem cells and an early postnatal intermediate radial glial/ependymal cell type), or from CD133-positive ependymal cells in the adult brain, which are, however, generally regarded as postmitotic. Alternatively, brain tumor stem cells could be derived from proliferative but CD133-negative neurogenic astrocytes in the adult brain. In the latter case, brain tumor development would involve the production of CD133.

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