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Anatomy of the brain neurogenic zones revisited: Fractones and the fibroblast/macrophage network



Cytogenesis in adult peripheral organs, and in all organs during development, occurs nearby basal laminae (BL) overlying connective tissue. Paradoxically, cytogenesis in the adult brain occurs primarily in the subependymal layer (SEL), a zone where no particular organization of BL and connective tissue has been described. We have reinvestigated the anatomy of the area considered the most neurogenic in the adult brain, the SEL of the lateral ventricle, in zones adjacent to the caudate putamen, corpus callosum, and lateral septal nucleus. Here, we report structural (confocal microscopy using laminin as a marker) and ultrastructural evidence for highly organized extravascular BL, unique to the SEL. The extravascular BL, termed fractones because of their fractal organization, were regularly arranged along the SEL and consisted of stems terminating in bulbs immediately underneath the ependyma. Fractones contacted local blood vessels by means of their stems. An individual fractone engulfed in its folds numerous processes of astrocytes, ependymocytes, microglial cells, and precursor cell types. The attachment site (base) of stems to blood vessels was extensively folded, overlying large perivascular macrophages that belong to a fibroblast/macrophage network coursing in the perivascular layer and through the meninges. In addition, collagen-1, which is associated with BL and growth factors during developmental morphogenetic inductions, was immunodetected in the SEL and particularly regionalized within fractones. Because macrophages and fibroblasts produce cytokines and growth factors that may concentrate in and exert their effect from the BL, we suggest that the structure described is implicated in adult neurogenesis, gliogenesis, and angiogenesis. J. Comp. Neurol. 451:170–188, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.