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Biol Res. 2012;45(3):243-56. doi: 10.4067/S0716-97602012000300006.

Typical and atypical stem cells in the brain, vitamin C effect and neuropathology.

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Laboratory of Neurobiology and Stem Cells, Center for Advanced Microscopy, CMA Bio Bio, University of Concepción, Concepción, Chile.


Stem cells are considered a valuable cellular resource for tissue replacement therapies in most brain disorders. Stem cells have the ability to self-replicate and differentiate into numerous cell types, including neurons, oligodendrocytes and astrocytes. As a result, stem cells have been considered the "holy grail" of modern medical neuroscience. Despite their tremendous therapeutic potential, little is known about the mechanisms that regulate their differentiation. In this review, we analyze stem cells in embryonic and adult brains, and illustrate the differentiation pathways that give origin to most brain cells. We also evaluate the emergent role of the well known anti-oxidant, vitamin C, in stem cell differentiation. We believe that a complete understanding of all molecular players, including vitamin C, in stem cell differentiation will positively impact on the use of stem cell transplantation for neurodegenerative diseases.

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