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Prog Neurobiol. 2002 Jan;66(1):1-18.

Neural stem cells and regulation of cell number.

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Institute of Cell Biology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, ETH-Hoenggerberg HPM E38, CH-8093 Z├╝rich, Switzerland.


Normal CNS development involves the sequential differentiation of multipotent stem cells. Alteration of the numbers of stem cells, their self-renewal ability, or their proliferative capacity will have major effects on the appropriate development of the nervous system. In this review, we discuss different mechanisms that regulate neural stem cell differentiation. Proliferation signals and cell cycle regulators may regulate cell kinetics or total number of cell divisions. Loss of trophic support and cytokine receptor activation may differentially contribute to the induction of cell death at specific stages of development. Signaling from differentiated progeny or asymmetric distribution of specific molecules may alter the self-renewal characteristics of stem cells. We conclude that the final decision of a cell to self-renew, differentiate or remain quiescent is dependent on an integration of multiple signaling pathways and at each instant will depend on cell density, metabolic state, ligand availability, type and levels of receptor expression, and downstream cross-talk between distinct signaling pathways.

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