NG2 cells (polydendrocytes): Listeners to the neural network with diverse properties

Authors

  • Robert A. Hill,

    1. Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut
    2. Department of Neurology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut
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  • Akiko Nishiyama

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut
    2. Connecticut Stem Cell Institute, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Connecticut
    • Address correspondence to Akiko Nishiyama, Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269, USA. E-mail: akiko.nishiyama@uconn.edu

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Abstract

NG2 cells (polydendrocytes) are the fourth major non-neuronal cell type in the central nervous system parenchyma. They exhibit diverse properties, ranging from their well-established role as oligodendrocyte precursors to their ability to respond to neurotransmitters released by synaptic and non-synaptic mechanisms. The functional diversity of NG2 cells has prompted the question of whether they represent a single cellular entity or multiple distinct cell populations. This review first summarizes recent findings on the nature and mechanism underlying the diversity of NG2 cells with regard to their proliferative and differentiation behavior. This will be followed by a synopsis of observations on how their microenvironment, particularly neuronal activity, influences their dynamic behavior, and how these changes in NG2 cells could in turn influence neural function and animal behavior. GLIA 2014;62:1195–1210

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