Differentiation of radial glia from radial precursor cells and transformation into astrocytes in the developing rat spinal cord

Glia. 2005 May;50(3):187-97. doi: 10.1002/glia.20166.


Radial glial cell origins and functions have been studied extensively in the brain; however, questions remain relating to their origin and fate in the spinal cord. In the present study, radial glia are investigated in vivo using the neuroepithelial markers nestin and vimentin and the gliogenic markers GLAST, BLBP, 3CB2, and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). This has revealed heterogeneity among nestin/vimentin-positive precursor cells and suggests a lineage progression from neuroepithelial cell through to astrocyte in the developing spinal cord. A population of self-renewing radial cells, distinct from an earlier pseudo-stratified neuroepithelium, that resemble radial glial cells in morphology but do not express GLAST, BLBP, or 3CB2, is revealed. These radial cells arise directly from the spinal cord neuroepithelium and are probably the progenitors of neurons and the earliest appearing radial glial cells. GLAST/BLBP-positive radial glia first appear in the ventral cord at E14, and these cells gradually transform through one or more intermediate stages into differentiated astrocytes. Few if any neurons appear to be derived from radial glial cells, which are instead the major sources of astrocytes in the spinal cord. Evidence for the nonradial glial cell origins of some white matter astrocytes is also presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG / biosynthesis
  • Animals
  • Antigens, Differentiation / biosynthesis
  • Astrocytes / cytology*
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Carrier Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Ectoderm / cytology
  • Ectoderm / metabolism
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Protein 7
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / biosynthesis
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Nestin
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spinal Cord / cytology*
  • Spinal Cord / embryology*
  • Spinal Cord / physiology
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Vimentin / biosynthesis


  • Amino Acid Transport System X-AG
  • Antigens, Differentiation
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Fabp7 protein, rat
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Protein 7
  • Fatty Acid-Binding Proteins
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Nes protein, rat
  • Nestin
  • Vimentin