• Neural stem cells;
  • Oligodendrocytes;
  • NG2;
  • Proteoglycan;
  • Peripheral nervous system;
  • Neurospheres;
  • Cytometry Plasticity


Neural stem cells cultured with fibroblast growth factor 2 (FGF2)/epidermal growth factor (EGF) generate clonal expansions called neurospheres (NS), which are widely used for therapy in animal models. However, their cellular composition is still poorly defined. Here, we report that NS derived from several embryonic and adult central nervous system (CNS) regions are composed mainly of remarkable cells coexpressing radial glia markers (BLBP, RC2, GLAST), oligodendrogenic/neurogenic factors (Mash1, Olig2, Nkx2.2), and markers that in vivo are typical of the oligodendrocyte lineage (NG2, A2B5, PDGFR-α). On NS differentiation, the latter remain mostly expressed in neurons, together with Olig2 and Mash1. Using cytometry, we show that in growing NS the small population of multipotential self-renewing NS-forming cells are A2B5+ and NG2+. Additionally, we demonstrate that these NS-forming cells in the embryonic spinal cord were initially NG2 and rapidly acquired NG2 in vitro. NG2 and Olig2 were found to be rapidly induced by cell culture conditions in spinal cord neural precursor cells. Olig2 expression was also induced in astrocytes and embryonic peripheral nervous system (PNS) cells in culture after EGF/FGF treatment. These data provide new evidence for profound phenotypic modifications in CNS and PNS neural precursor cells induced by culture conditions.