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Stem Cells Dev. 2008 Feb;17(1):157-72. doi: 10.1089/scd.2007.0090.

In vitro generation of dopaminergic neurons from adult subventricular zone neural progenitor cells.

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Center for Regenerative Biology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA.


The adult subventricular zone (SVZ) supports a population of cells that display the hallmarks of stem cells: they are self-renewing and multipotent-capable of generating neurons, oligodendrocytes, and astrocytes. In vivo, these adult neural stem cells (aNSCs) are fated primarily for a gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA)-ergic lineage of olfactory bulb interneurons, a small subpopulation of which is dopaminergic. Here, we investigate the plasticity of aNSCs in vitro, in particular, their ability to generate a specific neuronal lineage, midbrain dopamine neurons. Previous work using mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells showed that introduction of early developmental inductive cues, sonic hedgehog (SHH) and fibroblast growth factor-8 (FGF-8), directed ES cell-derived neuroepithelial cells to generate midbrain dopaminergic neurons, those lost in Parkinson's disease. Placing aNSCs under similar culture conditions, immunocytochemistry and RT-PCR analysis revealed early dopaminergic neuron specification. However, aNSC-derived neurons remained morphologically immature, exhibiting concurrent nestin and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) expression, with cell death occurring in the final differentiation stage. High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis revealed that while aNSC-derived neurons released dopamine, release was not significantly increased following depolarization with K+. In contrast, ES cell-generated TH+ neurons expressed the mature markers MAP2 and NeuN and showed K+-evoked release of dopamine. Reduced culture time of aNSC-derived nestin+ progenitors in FGF-2-containing medium improved survival of TH+ neurons. However, these neurons exhibited characteristics of forebrain dopamine neurons and also expressed low levels of midbrain transcription factors. Together, our data indicate that when presented with in vitro conditions that promote midbrain-specific dopamine neuron specification, aNSCs instead generate forebrain-like dopamine neurons, demonstrating their restricted and prescribed nature.

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