The Role of Astrocytes in the Generation, Migration, and Integration of New Neurons in the Adult Olfactory Bulb

Front Neurosci. 2016 Apr 5:10:149. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2016.00149. eCollection 2016.


In mammals, new neurons in the adult olfactory bulb originate from a pool of neural stem cells in the subventricular zone of the lateral ventricles. Adult-born cells play an important role in odor information processing by adjusting the neuronal network to changing environmental conditions. Olfactory bulb neurogenesis is supported by several non-neuronal cells. In this review, we focus on the role of astroglial cells in the generation, migration, integration, and survival of new neurons in the adult forebrain. In the subventricular zone, neural stem cells with astrocytic properties display regional and temporal specificity when generating different neuronal subtypes. Non-neurogenic astrocytes contribute to the establishment and maintenance of the neurogenic niche. Neuroblast chains migrate through the rostral migratory stream ensheathed by astrocytic processes. Astrocytes play an important regulatory role in neuroblast migration and also assist in the development of a vasculature scaffold in the migratory stream that is essential for neuroblast migration in the postnatal brain. In the olfactory bulb, astrocytes help to modulate the network through a complex release of cytokines, regulate blood flow, and provide metabolic support, which may promote the integration and survival of new neurons. Astrocytes thus play a pivotal role in various processes of adult olfactory bulb neurogenesis, and it is likely that many other functions of these glial cells will emerge in the near future.

Keywords: astrocytes; blood vessels; interneurons; olfactory bulb; rostral migratory stream; stem cells.

Publication types

  • Review