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Regen Med. 2009 Nov;4(6):879-97. doi: 10.2217/rme.09.61.

Diverse roles of the vasculature within the neural stem cell niche.

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Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics & Molecular, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


An interdependent relationship between the vascular and nervous systems begins during the earliest stages of development and persists through the mammalian lifespan. Accordingly, the process of adult neurogenesis involves the coordinated response of both systems to maintain a specialized microenvironment (niche) that tips the scale towards maintenance or regeneration, as needed. Understanding the nature and regulation of this balance will provide a foundation on which the potential for molecular- and stem cell-based therapies can be developed to treat prevalent CNS diseases and disorders. The vasculature is cited as a prominent feature within the adult subventricular zone and subgranular zone, known adult neural stem cell niches, helping to retain neural stem and progenitor cell potential. The vascular compartment within the neural stem cell niche has the unique opportunity to not only regulate neural stem and progenitor cells through direct contact with, and paracrine signaling from, endothelial and mural cells that make up blood vessels, but also integrates systemic signals into the local microenvironment via distribution of soluble factors from blood circulation to regulate stem cell niche behavior. Understanding the intricate role that the vasculature plays to influence neural stem cells in the context of niche regulation will help to bridge the gap from bench to bedside for the development of regeneration-based therapies for the CNS.

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