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J Neurosci. 1996 Dec 1;16(23):7599-609.

Multipotent CNS stem cells are present in the adult mammalian spinal cord and ventricular neuroaxis.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, Alberta, Canada.


Neural stem cells in the lateral ventricles of the adult mouse CNS participate in repopulation of forebrain structures in vivo and are amenable to in vitro expansion by epidermal growth factor (EGF). There have been no reports of stem cells in more caudal brain regions or in the spinal cord of adult mammals. In this study we found that although ineffective alone, EGF and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) cooperated to induce the proliferation, self-renewal, and expansion of neural stem cells isolated from the adult mouse thoracic spinal cord. The proliferating stem cells, in both primary culture and secondary expanded clones, formed spheres of undifferentiated cells that were induced to differentiate into neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. Neural stem cells, whose proliferation was dependent on EGF+bFGF, were also isolated from the lumbar/sacral segment of the spinal cord as well as the third and fourth ventricles (but not adjacent brain parenchyma). Although all of the stem cells examined were similarly multipotent and expandable, quantitative analyses demonstrated that the lateral ventricles (EGF-dependent) and lumbar/sacral spinal cord (EGF+bFGF-dependent) yielded the greatest number of these cells. Thus, the spinal cord and the entire ventricular neuroaxis of the adult mammalian CNS contain multipotent stem cells, present at variable frequency and with unique in vitro activation requirements.

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