Architecture and cell types of the adult subventricular zone: In search of the stem cells



Neural stem cells are maintained in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the adult mammalian brain. Here, we review the cellular organization of this germinal layer and propose lineage relationships of the three main cell types found in this area. The majority of cells in the adult SVZ are migrating neuroblasts (type A cells) that continue to proliferate. These cells form an extensive network of tangentially oriented pathways throughout the lateral wall of the lateral ventricle. Type A cells move long distances through this network at high speeds by means of chain migration. Cells in the SVZ network enter the rostral migratory stream (RMS) and migrate anteriorly into the olfactory bulb, where they differentiate into interneurons. The chains of type A cells are ensheathed by slowly proliferating astrocytes (type B cells), the second most common cell type in this germinal layer. The most actively proliferating cells in the SVZ, type C, form small clusters dispersed throughout the network. These foci of proliferating type C cells are in close proximity to chains of type A cells. We discuss possible lineage relationships among these cells and hypothesize which are the neural stem cells in the adult SVZ. In addition, we suggest that interactions between type A, B, and C cells may regulate proliferation and initial differentiation within this germinal layer. © 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. J Neurobiol 36: 234–248, 1998