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Neurosurgery. 2008 Jan;62(1):223-9; discussion 229-31. doi: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000311081.50648.4C.

Long-term expansion of adult human brain subventricular zone precursors.

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Laboratory for Translational Stem Cell Research, Department of Neurological Surgery, Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, New York 10021, USA.



Many common neurosurgical procedures, including anterior temporal lobectomy and endoscopic ventricular puncture, allow neurosurgeons to retrieve portions of the germinal subventricular zone (SVZ). Isolation and maintenance of precursor cells from this zone can be used for hypothesis-driven experiments with a goal of improving our understanding of the basic mechanisms of central nervous system injury or disease and the potential of cell-based therapies to treat them. This article details our ability to reliably harvest, isolate, characterize, and maintain normal adult human brain SVZ precursor cells.


Normal SVZ specimens were retrieved as part of anterior temporal lobe resections during planned epilepsy surgery. Dissociated SVZ specimens were plated and incubated in epidermal growth factor and basic fibroblast growth factor for more than 1 year to select for and expand normal neural precursor cells.


Self-renewal and immunocytochemical experiments proved the feasibility of long-term expansion of a slowly dividing nestin+, vimentin+, and glial fibrillary acidic protein-positive astrocyte capable of generating new neurons and glia. These mitotically active bipotent human precursors generated a large number of progeny and possessed significant self-renewal capacity, demonstrated by their ability to generate neurospheres. Cryopreservation was reliable with no loss of the precursor phenotype.


We have adapted techniques to allow for the isolation and long-term propagation of human adult neural precursors that are capable of generating both neurons and astrocytes in vitro. We have exploited the cell's self-renewal capacity to significantly and consistently expand human neural precursor cells for as long as 20 months. These findings suggest that cells derived from the SVZ during routine surgery may provide a renewable source of human neural precursor cells to study the biological mechanism of central nervous system disease or for application in cell-based human transplantation paradigms.

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