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Nat Commun. 2013;4:2049. doi: 10.1038/ncomms3049.

α-Tanycytes of the adult hypothalamic third ventricle include distinct populations of FGF-responsive neural progenitors.

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MRC Centre for Developmental and Biomedical Genetics and Department of Biomedical Science, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.


Emerging evidence suggests that new cells, including neurons, can be generated within the adult hypothalamus, suggesting the existence of a local neural stem/progenitor cell niche. Here, we identify α-tanycytes as key components of a hypothalamic niche in the adult mouse. Long-term lineage tracing in vivo using a GLAST::CreER(T2) conditional driver indicates that α-tanycytes are self-renewing cells that constitutively give rise to new tanycytes, astrocytes and sparse numbers of neurons. In vitro studies demonstrate that α-tanycytes, but not β-tanycytes or parenchymal cells, are neurospherogenic. Distinct subpopulations of α-tanycytes exist, amongst which only GFAP-positive dorsal α2-tanycytes possess stem-like neurospherogenic activity. Fgf-10 and Fgf-18 are expressed specifically within ventral tanycyte subpopulations; α-tanycytes require fibroblast growth factor signalling to maintain their proliferation ex vivo and elevated fibroblast growth factor levels lead to enhanced proliferation of α-tanycytes in vivo. Our results suggest that α-tanycytes form the critical component of a hypothalamic stem cell niche, and that local fibroblast growth factor signalling governs their proliferation.

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