Subventricular zone astrocytes are neural stem cells in the adult mammalian brain

Cell. 1999 Jun 11;97(6):703-16. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(00)80783-7.


Neural stem cells reside in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the adult mammalian brain. This germinal region, which continually generates new neurons destined for the olfactory bulb, is composed of four cell types: migrating neuroblasts, immature precursors, astrocytes, and ependymal cells. Here we show that SVZ astrocytes, and not ependymal cells, remain labeled with proliferation markers after long survivals in adult mice. After elimination of immature precursors and neuroblasts by an antimitotic treatment, SVZ astrocytes divide to generate immature precursors and neuroblasts. Furthermore, in untreated mice, SVZ astrocytes specifically infected with a retrovirus give rise to new neurons in the olfactory bulb. Finally, we show that SVZ astrocytes give rise to cells that grow into multipotent neurospheres in vitro. We conclude that SVZ astrocytes act as neural stem cells in both the normal and regenerating brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / cytology*
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / physiology
  • Cerebral Ventricles / cytology*
  • Cerebral Ventricles / physiology
  • Chick Embryo
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / genetics
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Olfactory Bulb
  • Regeneration
  • Stem Cells / cytology*


  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein