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NeuroRx. 2004 Oct;1(4):452-71.

The repair of complex neuronal circuitry by transplanted and endogenous precursors.

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  • 1Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School Center for Nervous System Repair, Department of Neurosurgery, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


During the past three decades, research exploring potential neuronal replacement therapies has focused on replacing lost neurons by transplanting cells or grafting tissue into diseased regions of the brain. However, in the last decade, the development of novel approaches has resulted in an explosion of new research showing that neurogenesis, the birth of new neurons, normally occurs in two limited and specific regions of the adult mammalian brain, and that there are significant numbers of multipotent neural precursors in many parts of the adult mammalian brain. Recent advances in our understanding of related events of neural development and plasticity, including the role of radial glia in developmental neurogenesis, and the ability of endogenous precursors present in the adult brain to be induced to produce neurons and partially repopulate brain regions affected by neurodegenerative processes, have led to fundamental changes in the views about how the brain develops, as well as to approaches by which transplanted or endogenous precursors might be used to repair the adult brain. For example, recruitment of new neurons can be induced in a region-specific, layer-specific, and neuronal type-specific manner, and, in some cases, newly recruited neurons can form long-distance connections to appropriate targets. Elucidation of the relevant molecular controls may both allow control over transplanted precursor cells and potentially allow for the development of neuronal replacement therapies for neurodegenerative disease and other CNS injuries that might not require transplantation of exogenous cells.

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