Review

Cell Research (2009) 19:672–682. doi: 10.1038/cr.2009.56; published online 12 May 2009

Adult neural stem cells in the mammalian central nervous system

Dengke K Ma1,2,3, Michael A Bonaguidi1,3, Guo-li Ming1,2,3 and Hongjun Song1,2,3

  1. 1Institute for Cell Engineering, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 733 N. Broadway, BRB 706, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
  2. 2The Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 733 N. Broadway, BRB 706, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
  3. 3Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 733 N. Broadway, BRB 706, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA

Correspondence: Dengke K Ma, dma2@jhmi.edu

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Abstract

Neural stem cells (NSCs) are present not only during the embryonic development but also in the adult brain of all mammalian species, including humans. Stem cell niche architecture in vivo enables adult NSCs to continuously generate functional neurons in specific brain regions throughout life. The adult neurogenesis process is subject to dynamic regulation by various physiological, pathological and pharmacological stimuli. Multipotent adult NSCs also appear to be intrinsically plastic, amenable to genetic programing during normal differentiation, and to epigenetic reprograming during de-differentiation into pluripotency. Increasing evidence suggests that adult NSCs significantly contribute to specialized neural functions under physiological and pathological conditions. Fully understanding the biology of adult NSCs will provide crucial insights into both the etiology and potential therapeutic interventions of major brain disorders. Here, we review recent progress on adult NSCs of the mammalian central nervous system, including topics on their identity, niche, function, plasticity, and emerging roles in cancer and regenerative medicine.

Keywords:

adult neurogenesis; neural stem cells; stem cell niche; plasticity; regeneration; reprograming; cancer stem cells; hippocampus; olfactory bulb

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