Glial cells in adult neurogenesis

Authors


Abstract

Adult neurogenesis is an exceptional feature of the adult brain and in an intriguing way bridges between neuronal and glial neurobiology. Essentially, all classes of glial cells are directly or indirectly linked to this process. Cells with astrocytic features, for example, serve as radial glia-like stem cells in the two neurogenic regions of the adult brain, the hippocampal dentate gyrus and the subventricular zone of the lateral ventricles, producing new neurons, create a microenvironment permissive for neurogenesis, and are themselves generated alongside the new neurons in an associated but independently regulated process. Oligodendrocytes are generated from precursor cells intermingled with those generating neurons in an independent lineage. NG2 cells have certain precursor cell properties and are found throughout the brain parenchyma. They respond to extrinsic stimuli and injury but do not generate neurons even though they can express some preneuronal markers. Microglia have positive and negative regulatory effects as constituents of the “neurogenic niche”. Ependymal cells play incompletely understood roles in adult neurogenesis, but under certain conditions might exert (back-up) precursor cell functions. Glial contributions to adult neurogenesis can be direct or indirect and are mediated by mechanisms ranging from gap-junctional to paracrine and endocrine. As the two neurogenic regions differ between each other and both from the non-neurogenic rest of the brain, the question arises in how far regionalization of both the glia-like precursor cells as well as of the glial cells determines site-specific “neurogenic permissiveness.” In any case, however, “neurogenesis” appears to be an essentially glial achievement. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Ancillary