Neural stem cells: origin, heterogeneity and regulation in the adult mammalian brain

Development. 2019 Feb 18;146(4):dev156059. doi: 10.1242/dev.156059.


In the adult rodent brain, neural stem cells (NSCs) persist in the ventricular-subventricular zone (V-SVZ) and the subgranular zone (SGZ), which are specialized niches in which young neurons for the olfactory bulb (OB) and hippocampus, respectively, are generated. Recent studies have significantly modified earlier views on the mechanisms of NSC self-renewal and neurogenesis in the adult brain. Here, we discuss the molecular control, heterogeneity, regional specification and cell division modes of V-SVZ NSCs, and draw comparisons with NSCs in the SGZ. We highlight how V-SVZ NSCs are regulated by local signals from their immediate neighbors, as well as by neurotransmitters and factors that are secreted by distant neurons, the choroid plexus and vasculature. We also review recent advances in single cell RNA analyses that reveal the complexity of adult neurogenesis. These findings set the stage for a better understanding of adult neurogenesis, a process that one day may inspire new approaches to brain repair.

Keywords: Differentiation; Neural stem cells; Neurogenesis; Self-renewal; Stem cell heterogeneity; Transcriptomics.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / physiology
  • Hippocampus / embryology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Lateral Ventricles / embryology
  • Lateral Ventricles / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Neural Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Olfactory Bulb / embryology
  • Olfactory Bulb / physiology*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Signal Transduction
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • Transcriptome