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Neuroscientist. 2008 Oct;14(5):459-73. doi: 10.1177/1073858407313512. Epub 2008 May 8.

Radial glia cells in the developing human brain.

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Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, New York, USA.


Human radial glia (RG) share many of the features described in rodents, but also have a number of characteristics unique to the human brain. Results obtained from different mammalian species including human and non-human primates reveal differences in the involvement of RG in neurogenesis and oligodendrogenesis and in the timing of the initial expression of typical RG immunomarkers. A common problem in studying the human brain is that experimental procedures using modern molecular and genetic methods, such as in vivo transduction with retroviruses or creation of knockout or transgenic mutants, are not possible. Nevertheless, abundant and valuable information about the development of the human brain has been revealed using postmortem human material. Additionally, a combination and spectrum of in vitro techniques are used to gain knowledge about normal developmental processes in the human brain, including better understanding of RG as progenitor cells. Molecular and functional characterization of multipotent progenitors, such as RG, is important for future cell replacement therapies in neurological and psychiatric disorders, which are often resistant to conventional treatments. The protracted time of development and larger size of the human brain could provide insight into processes that may go unnoticed in the much smaller rodent cortex, which develops over a much shorter period. With that in mind, we summarize results on the role of RG in the human fetal brain.

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