Insulin and IGF receptor signalling in neural-stem-cell homeostasis

Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2015 Mar;11(3):161-70. doi: 10.1038/nrendo.2014.208. Epub 2014 Dec 2.


Neural stem cells (NSCs) are found in two regions in the adult brain: the subgranular zone (SGZ) in the hippocampal dentate gyrus and the subventricular zone (SVZ) adjacent to the lateral ventricles. Similarly to other somatic stem cells, adult NSCs are found within specialized niches that are organized to facilitate NSC self-renewal. Alterations in stem-cell homeostasis can contribute to the consequences of neurodegenerative diseases, healthy ageing and tissue repair after damage. Insulin and the insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) function in stem-cell homeostasis across species. Studies in the mammalian central nervous system support essential roles for IGF and/or insulin signalling in NSC self-renewal, neurogenesis, cognition and sensory function through distinct ligand-receptor interactions. IGF-II is of particular interest as a result of its production by the choroid plexus and presence in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). CSF regulates and supports the development, division and migration of cells in the adult brain and is required for NSC maintenance. In this Review, we discuss emerging data on the functions of IGF-II and IGF and/or insulin receptor signalling in the context of NSC regulation in the SVZ and SGZ. We also propose a model for IGF-II in which the choroid plexus is a major component of the NSC niche.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / chemistry
  • Choroid Plexus / physiology
  • Dentate Gyrus / physiology
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin / physiology*
  • Lateral Ventricles / physiology
  • Mice
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Neural Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Neurogenesis*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Somatomedins / metabolism
  • Somatomedins / physiology*


  • Insulin
  • Somatomedins