Polydendrocytes (NG2 cells): multifunctional cells with lineage plasticity

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2009 Jan;10(1):9-22. doi: 10.1038/nrn2495.


NG2 cells (also known as polydendrocytes) are a population of CNS cells that are distinct from neurons, mature oligodendrocytes, astrocytes and microglia. They can be identified by the expression of the proteoglycan NG2, have a highly branched morphology and are distributed throughout the grey and white matter. They differentiate into oligodendrocytes in vitro and have often been equated with oligodendrocyte precursor cells. However, whether polydendrocytes are multipotential cells that can give rise to neurons and astrocytes as well as oligodendrocytes is now highly debated. Furthermore, electrophysiological studies indicate that polydendrocytes receive synaptic input from neurons, suggesting that they are integrated in the neural network. This Review highlights recent findings and unresolved questions related to the lineage and function of polydendrocytes in the CNS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens / metabolism*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Lineage / physiology*
  • Central Nervous System / cytology*
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Gangliosides / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Oligodendroglia / cytology*
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism
  • Oligodendroglia / physiology
  • Proteoglycans / metabolism*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / physiology


  • Antigens
  • Gangliosides
  • Proteoglycans
  • chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan 4
  • ganglioside A2B5