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Keywords:

  • Quiescent neural stem cell;
  • Active neural stem cell;
  • Proliferation;
  • Differentiation;
  • Niche;
  • Regeneration

Abstract

The adult mammalian central nervous system (CNS) lacks the capacity for regeneration, making it a highly sought-after topic for researchers. The identification of neural stem cells (NSCs) in the adult CNS wiped out a long-held dogma that the adult brain contains a set number of neurons and is incapable of replacing them. The discovery of adult NSCs (aNSCs) stoked the fire for researchers who dream of brain self-repair. Unfortunately, the quiescent nature and limited plasticity of aNSCs diminish their regenerative potential. Recent studies evaluating aNSC plasticity under pathological conditions indicate that a switch from quiescent to active aNSCs in neurogenic regions plays an important role in both repairing the damaged tissue and preserving progenitor pools. Here, we summarize the most recent findings and present questions about characterizing the active and quiescent aNSCs in major neurogenic regions, and factors for maintaining their active and quiescent states, hoping to outline an emerging view for promoting the endogenous aNSC-based regeneration. STEM CELLS 2011;29:907–912