Get access

Hippocampal stem cells differentiate into excitatory and inhibitory neurons

Authors

  • Carlos Vicario-Abejón,

    1. Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-4092, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Carlos Collin,

    1. Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-4092, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Pantelis Tsoulfas,

    1. Department of Neurological Surgery and the Miami Project, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL 33136, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Ronald D. G. McKay

    1. Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-4092, USA
    Search for more papers by this author

: Dr C. Vicario-Abejón, Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, CSIC, Velázquez 144, 28006 Madrid, Spain. E-mail: cvicario@cib.csic.es

Abstract

Stem cell technology promises new and rapid advances in cell therapy and drug discovery. Clearly, the value of this approach will be limited by the differentiated functions displayed by the progeny of stem cells. The foetal and adult central nervous system (CNS) harbour stem cells that can be expanded in vitro and differentiate into immature neurons and glia. Surprisingly, we do not know if neurons derived from stem cells form synapses, a definitive feature of neuronal function. Neuronal differentiation is a complex process and in this paper we establish conditions that permit extensive maturation of neurons in the presence of neurotrophins. These conditions permit the differentiation of rat hippocampal stem cells into both excitatory (glutamatergic) and inhibitory (GABAergic) neurons. The proportion of excitatory and inhibitory synapses was strongly influenced by specific neurotrophins, and these responses reflect the region of origin of the stem cells in the brain. These data show that stem cells can be used to study mechanisms of excitation and inhibition in the nervous system.

Ancillary