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Neuroscientist. 2012 Feb;18(1):15-27. doi: 10.1177/1073858410390379. Epub 2011 May 2.

Can adult neural stem cells create new brains? Plasticity in the adult mammalian neurogenic niches: realities and expectations in the era of regenerative biology.

Author information

1
Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. ik255@cam.ac.uk

Abstract

Since the first experimental reports showing the persistence of neurogenic activity in the adult mammalian brain, this field of neurosciences has expanded significantly. It is now widely accepted that neural stem and precursor cells survive during adulthood and are able to respond to various endogenous and exogenous cues by altering their proliferation and differentiation activity. Nevertheless, the pathway to therapeutic applications still seems to be long. This review attempts to summarize and revisit the available data regarding the plasticity potential of adult neural stem cells and of their normal microenvironment, the neurogenic niche. Recent data have demonstrated that adult neural stem cells retain a high level of pluripotency and that adult neurogenic systems can switch the balance between neurogenesis and gliogenesis and can generate a range of cell types with an efficiency that was not initially expected. Moreover, adult neural stem and precursor cells seem to be able to self-regulate their interaction with the microenvironment and even to contribute to its synthesis, altogether revealing a high level of plasticity potential. The next important step will be to elucidate the factors that limit this plasticity in vivo, and such a restrictive role for the microenvironment is discussed in more details.

PMID:
21536840
DOI:
10.1177/1073858410390379
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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