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Prog Neurobiol. 2005 Apr;75(5):321-41.

Adult neurogenesis and repair of the adult CNS with neural progenitors, precursors, and stem cells.

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MGH-HMS Center for Nervous System Repair, Department of Neurosurgery, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Edwards 410 (EDR 410), 50 Blossom Street, Boston MA 02114, USA.


Recent work in neuroscience has shown that the adult central nervous system contains neural progenitors, precursors, and stem cells that are capable of generating new neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. While challenging previous dogma that no new neurons are born in the adult mammalian CNS, these findings bring with them future possibilities for the development of novel neural repair strategies. The purpose of this review is to present current knowledge about constitutively occurring adult mammalian neurogenesis, to highlight the critical differences between "neurogenic" and "non-neurogenic" regions in the adult brain, and to describe the cardinal features of two well-described neurogenic regions-the subventricular zone/olfactory bulb system, and the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus. We also provide an overview of currently used models for studying neural precursors in vitro, mention some precursor transplantation models, and emphasize that, in this rapidly growing field of neuroscience, one must take caution with respect to a variety of methodological considerations for studying neural precursor cells both in vitro and in vivo. The possibility of repairing neural circuitry by manipulating neurogenesis is an intriguing one, and, therefore, we also review recent efforts to understand the conditions under which neurogenesis can be induced in non-neurogenic regions of the adult CNS. This work aims toward molecular and cellular manipulation of endogenous neural precursors in situ, without transplantation. We conclude this review with a discussion of what the function might be of newly generated neurons in the adult brain and provide a summary of current thinking about the consequences of disturbed adult neurogenesis and the reaction of neurogenic regions to disease.

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