Stable in vitro propagation of central nervous system (CNS) stem cells would offer expanded opportunities to dissect basic molecular, cellular, and developmental processes and to model neurode-generative disease. CNS stem cells could also provide a source of material for drug discovery assays and cell replacement therapies. We have recently reported the generation of adherent, symmetrically expandable, neural stem (NS) cell lines derived both from mouse and human embryonic stem cells and from fetal forebrain (Conti L, Pollard SM, Gorba T, Reitano E, Toselli M, Biella G, Sun Y, Sanzone S, Ying QL, Cattaneo E, Smith A. 2005. Niche-independent symmetrical self-renewal of a mammalian tissue stem cell. PLoS Biol 3(9):e283). These NS cells retain neuronal and glial differentiation potential after prolonged passaging and are transplantable. NS cells are likely to comprise the resident stem cell population within heterogeneous neurosphere cultures. Here we demonstrate that similar NS cell cultures can be established from the adult mouse brain. We also characterize the growth factor requirements for NS cell derivation and self-renewal. We discuss our current understanding of the relationship of NS cell lines to physiological progenitor cells of fetal and adult CNS.
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