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Keywords:

  • BrdU;
  • cerebral cortex;
  • gliogenesis;
  • neural progenitor cells;
  • neurogenesis

Abstract

In the adult mammalian brain, multipotent stem or progenitor cells involved in reproduction of neurons and glial cells have been well investigated only in very restricted regions; the subventricular zone of the lateral ventricle and the dentate gyrus in the hippocampal formation. In the neocortex, a series of in vitro studies has suggested the possible existence of neural progenitor cells possessing neurogenic and/or gliogenic potential in adult mammals. However, the cellular properties of the cortical progenitor cells in vivo have not been fully elucidated. Using 5′-bromodeoxyuridine labeling and immunohistochemical analysis of cell differentiation markers, we found that a subpopulation of NG2-immunopositive cells co-expressing doublecortin (DCX), an immature neuron marker, ubiquitously reside in the adult rat neocortex. Furthermore, these cells are the major population of proliferating cells in the region. The DCX(+)/NG2(+) cells reproduced the same daughter cells, or differentiated into DCX(+)/NG2(–) (approximately 1%) or DCX(–)/NG2(+) (approximately 10%) cells within 2 weeks after cell division. The DCX(+)/NG2(–) cells were also immunopositive for TUC-4, a neuronal linage marker, suggesting that these cells were committed to neuronal cell differentiation, whereas the DCX(–)/NG2(+) cells showed faint immunoreactivity for glutathione S-transferase (GST)-pi, an oligodendrocyte lineage marker, in the cytoplasm, suggesting glial cell lineage, and thereafter the cells differentiated into NG2(–)/GST-pi(+) mature oligodendrocytes after a further 2 weeks. These findings indicate that DCX(+)/NG2(+) cells ubiquitously exist as ‘multipotent progenitor cells’ in the neocortex of adult rats.