What are neural progenitor cells?
Neural progenitor cells are the progenitor cells of the central nervous system that gives rise to several glial and neuronal cell types that form the central nervous system. Neural progenitor cells do not generate non-neuronal cells such as immune cells. Neural progenitor cells are present in the central nervous system of the developing embryos but are also found in the neonatal and mature adult brain.
Adult Neural Progenitor Cells
Neural progenitor cells reside within two well-characterized niches in the adult mammalian brain. These two niches are the “subgranular zone” of the dentate gyrus and the “adult subventricular zone” surrounding the lateral ventricles of the cerebral cortex. The concept of neural regeneration came up with the 1960s report of neural generation in the postnatal rodent brain. Smart et al. 961 reported that injected thymidine-H3 in 3-day old and adult mice gave rise to newborn neurons near the subependymal layer. He also found neuron production in the adult brain but did not find evidence of surviving neurons in the cerebral cortex, thus concluding that new neurons degenerated. Postnatal neurogenesis takes place within the external granular layer of the cerebellum and precursor cells in these zones derive from the precursor cells in the prenatal brain. Nowakowski and Rakic (1981) found that neural progenitor cells in the dentate subgranular zone derive from the embryonic ventricular zone. These reports show that adult neural progenitor cells derive partly from embryonic precursor cells in proliferative zones.
Adult Progenitor Cells in the Subgranular Zone
These cells in the dentate gyrus share properties with radial glial cells and are therefore termed radial glial-like cells or Type1 cells. They have a complex radial process extending through the granule cell layer to synapses and vasculature. As per reports of Seri et al. 2001, Type 1 cells show expression of nestin, GFAP, and Sox2, thus playing a role in generating adult granule neurons. During neurogenic divisions, Type 1 cells give rise to intermediate progenitor cells, called Type2 cells. These Type 2 cells express Tbr2, have multipolar morphology and undergo limited division rounds to give rise to new neuronal cells. These new neuronal cells migrate radially into the granular cell layer of the dentate gyrus for adult neurogenesis. This has been linked to affective and cognitive behaviors.
Adult Progenitor Cells in the Subventricular Zone
New cells in the adult cortical subventricular zone migrate to the olfactory bulb where they differentiate into interneurons. Adult progenitor cells in the subventricular zone also generate glial cells. Adult progenitor cells express GFAP, GLAST, and BLBP.
Neural Stem Cells and Neural Progenitor Cells
Although used interchangeably, neural stem cells and neural progenitor cells are not the same things.
Neural stem cells
Neural progenitor cells
Produce progeny cells which terminally differentiate into neurons and glial cells.
|Uni-, bi- and multipotent.
Can differentiate into neurons and glial cells.
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