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Cell Rep. 2018 Apr 3;23(1):78-89. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.03.037.

Neonatal Subventricular Zone Neural Stem Cells Release Extracellular Vesicles that Act as a Microglial Morphogen.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-0314, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634-0314, USA. Electronic address:


Subventricular zone (SVZ) neural stem cells (NSCs) are the cornerstone of the perinatal neurogenic niche. Microglia are immune cells of the nervous system that are enriched in the neonatal SVZ. Although microglia regulate NSCs, the extent to which this interaction is bi-directional is unclear. Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are cell-derived particles that encase miRNA and proteins. Here, we demonstrate that SVZ NSCs generate and release EVs. Neonatal electroporated fluorescent EV fusion proteins were released by NSCs and subsequently cleared from the SVZ. EVs were preferentially targeted to microglia. Small RNA sequencing identified miRNAs within the EVs that regulate microglia physiology and morphology. EVs induced a transition to a CD11b/Iba1 non-stellate microglial morphology. The transition accompanied a microglial transcriptional state characterized by Let-7-regulated cytokine release and a negative feedback loop that controlled NSC proliferation. These findings implicate an NSC-EV-microglia axis and provide insight to normal and pathophysiological brain development.


exosome; extracellular vesicles; microglia; neural stem cell

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