Young neurons from the adult subependymal zone proliferate and migrate along an astrocyte, extracellular matrix-rich pathway

Glia. 1996 May;17(1):1-14. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1098-1136(199605)17:1<1::AID-GLIA1>3.0.CO;2-7.


The subependymal zone (SEZ) of the lateral ventricle of adult rodents has long been known to be mitotically active. There has been increased interest in the SEZ, since it has been demonstrated that neuroepithelial stem cells residing there generate neurons in addition to glia in vitro. In the present study, we have examined parasagittal sections of the adult mouse brain using immunocytochemistry for extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules (tenascin and chondroitin sulfate-containing proteoglycans), glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP, a cytoskeletal protein prominently expressed by immature and reactive astrocytes), RC-2 (a radial glial and immature astrocyte cytoskeletal marker), TuJ1 (a class III beta-tubulin isoform expressed solely by postmitotic and adult neurons), nestin (a cytoskeletal protein associated with stem cells), neuron-specific enolase, and bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU, which is taken up by dividing cells). Our results demonstrate that a population of young neurons reside within an ECM-rich, GFAP-positive astrocyte pathway from the rostral SEZ all the way into the olfactory bulb. Furthermore, BrdU labeling studies indicate that there is a high level of cell division along the entire length of this path, and double-labeling studies indicate that neurons committed to a neuronal lineage (i.e., TuJ1+) take up BrdU (suggesting they are in the DNA synthesis phase of the cell cycle), again along the entire length of the SEZ "migratory pathway." Thus, the SEZ appears to retain the ability to produce neurons and glia throughout the life of the animal, functioning as a type of "brain marrow." The implications of these findings are discussed in relation to the role that such a glial/ ECM-rich boundary (as seen in the embryonic cortical subplate and other developing areas) may play in: confining the migratory populations and maintaining them in a persistent state of immaturity; facilitating their migration to the olfactory bulb, where they are incorporated into established adult circuitries; and potentially altering SEZ cell cycle dynamics that eventually lead to cell death.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / physiology*
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Cell Division / physiology*
  • Extracellular Matrix / physiology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Neurons / physiology*