A comparative study of the neural stem cell niche in the adult hypothalamus of human, mouse, rat and gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus)

J Comp Neurol. 2018 Jun 15;526(9):1419-1443. doi: 10.1002/cne.24376. Epub 2018 Mar 25.


The adult brain contains niches of neural stem cells that continuously add new neurons to selected circuits throughout life. Two niches have been extensively studied in various mammalian species including humans, the subventricular zone of the lateral ventricles and the subgranular zone of the hippocampal dentate gyrus. Recently, studies conducted mainly in rodents have identified a third neurogenic niche in the adult hypothalamus. In order to evaluate whether a neural stem cell niche also exists in the adult hypothalamus in humans, we performed multiple immunofluorescence labeling to assess the expression of a panel of neural stem/progenitor cell (NPC) markers (Sox2, nestin, vimentin, GLAST, GFAP) in the human hypothalamus and compared them with the mouse, rat and a non-human primate species, the gray mouse lemur (Microcebus murinus). Our results show that the adult human hypothalamus contains four distinct populations of cells that express the five NPC markers: (a) a ribbon of small stellate cells that lines the third ventricular wall behind a hypocellular gap, similar to that found along the lateral ventricles, (b) ependymal cells, (c) tanycytes, which line the floor of the third ventricle in the tuberal region, and (d) a population of small stellate cells in the suprachiasmatic nucleus. In the mouse, rat and mouse lemur hypothalamus, co-expression of NPC markers is primarily restricted to tanycytes, and these species lack a ventricular ribbon. Our work thus identifies four cell populations with the antigenic profile of NPCs in the adult human hypothalamus, of which three appear specific to humans.

Keywords: RRID:AB_10013382; RRID:AB_10015203; RRID:AB_11212377; RRID:AB_141607; RRID:AB_141708; RRID:AB_141844; RRID:AB_142581; RRID:AB_2251304; RRID:AB_2273044; RRID:AB_2286684; RRID:AB_2298772; RRID:AB_2314148; RRID:AB_2340375; RRID:AB_2534013; RRID:AB_2534017; RRID:AB_2651133; RRID:AB_304334; RRID:AB_443209; RRID:AB_94844; RRID:AB_94911; RRID:IMSR_JAX:000664; RRID:RGD_1566457; RRID:SCR_010285; RRID:SCR_014199; adult; humans; hypothalamus; neural stem cells; tanycyte; third ventricle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Ontologies
  • Doublecortin Domain Proteins
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / anatomy & histology*
  • Lemur
  • Mice
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Neural Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Neuropeptides / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Species Specificity
  • Stem Cell Niche / physiology*


  • Doublecortin Domain Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Neuropeptides