• Astrocyte;
  • Adenosine 5′-triphosphate;
  • Proliferative factor;
  • Neural stem cells;
  • Adult hippocampal neurogenesis


Astrocytes are key components of the niche for neural stem cells (NSCs) in the adult hippocampus and play a vital role in regulating NSC proliferation and differentiation. However, the exact molecular mechanisms by which astrocytes modulate NSC proliferation have not been identified. Here, we identified adenosine 5′-triphosphate (ATP) as a proliferative factor required for astrocyte-mediated proliferation of NSCs in the adult hippocampus. Our results indicate that ATP is necessary and sufficient for astrocytes to promote NSC proliferation in vitro. The lack of inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor type 2 and transgenic blockage of vesicular gliotransmission induced deficient ATP release from astrocytes. This deficiency led to a dysfunction in NSC proliferation that could be rescued via the administration of exogenous ATP. Moreover, P2Y1-mediated purinergic signaling is involved in the astrocyte promotion of NSC proliferation. As adult hippocampal neurogenesis is potentially involved in major mood disorder, our results might offer mechanistic insights into this disease. STEM Cells 2013;31:1633–1643