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J Neurosci. 1999 May 1;19(9):3287-97.

Epidermal and fibroblast growth factors behave as mitogenic regulators for a single multipotent stem cell-like population from the subventricular region of the adult mouse forebrain.

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Laboratory of Neuropharmacology, National Neurological Institute C. Besta, Milan, Italy I-20133.


The subventricular zone (SVZ) of the adult mammalian forebrain contains kinetically distinct precursor populations that contribute new neurons to the olfactory bulb. Because among forebrain precursors there are stem-like cells that can be cultured in the presence of mitogens such as epidermal growth factor (EGF) and fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2), we asked whether distinct subsets of stem-like cells coexist within the SVZ or whether the proliferation of a single type of SVZ stem-like cell is controlled by several GFs. We show that the latter is the case. Thus cells isolated from the SVZ coexpress the EGF and FGF receptors; by quantitative analysis, the number of stem-like cells isolated from the SVZ by either FGF2 or EGF is the same, whereas no additive effect occurs when these factors are used together. Furthermore, short-term administration of high-dose [3H]thymidine in vivo depletes both the EGF- and FGF2-responsive stem-like cell populations equally, showing they possess closely similar proliferation kinetics and likely belong to the constitutively proliferating SVZ compartment. By subcloning and population analysis, we demonstrate that responsiveness to more than one GF endows SVZ cells with an essential stem cell feature, the ability to vary self-renewal, that was until now undocumented in CNS stem-like cells. The multipotent stem cell-like population that expands slowly in the presence of FGF2 in culture switches to a faster growth mode when exposed to EGF alone and expands even faster when exposed to both GFs together. Analogous responses are observed when the GFs are used in the reverse order, and furthermore, these growth rate modifications are fully reversible.

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