Local generation of glia is a major astrocyte source in postnatal cortex.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Physiology, University of California at San Francisco, 1550 4th Street, San Francisco, California 94158, USA.
Nature (Impact Factor: 42.35). 03/2012; 484(7394):376-80. DOI: 10.1038/nature10959
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Glial cells constitute nearly 50% of the cells in the human brain. Astrocytes, which make up the largest glial population, are crucial to the regulation of synaptic connectivity during postnatal development. Because defects in astrocyte generation are associated with severe neurological disorders such as brain tumours, it is important to understand how astrocytes are produced. Astrocytes reportedly arise from two sources: radial glia in the ventricular zone and progenitors in the subventricular zone, with the contribution from each region shifting with time. During the first three weeks of postnatal development, the glial cell population, which contains predominantly astrocytes, expands 6-8-fold in the rodent brain. Little is known about the mechanisms underlying this expansion. Here we show that a major source of glia in the postnatal cortex in mice is the local proliferation of differentiated astrocytes. Unlike glial progenitors in the subventricular zone, differentiated astrocytes undergo symmetric division, and their progeny integrate functionally into the existing glial network as mature astrocytes that form endfeet with blood vessels, couple electrically to neighbouring astrocytes, and take up glutamate after neuronal activity.

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    ABSTRACT: Astrocytes are the most abundant cells in the CNS, and have many essential functions, including maintenance of blood-brain barrier integrity, and CNS water, ion, and glutamate homeostasis. Mammalian astrogliogenesis has generally been considered to be completed soon after birth, and to be reactivated in later life only under pathological circumstances. Here, by using genetic fate-mapping, we demonstrate that new corpus callosum astrocytes are continuously generated from nestin(+) subventricular zone (SVZ) neural progenitor cells (NPCs) in normal adult mice. These nestin fate-mapped corpus callosum astrocytes are uniformly postmitotic, express glutamate receptors, and form aquaporin-4(+) perivascular endfeet. The entry of new astrocytes from the SVZ into the corpus callosum appears to be balanced by astroglial apoptosis, because overall numbers of corpus callosum astrocytes remain constant during normal adulthood. Nestin fate-mapped astrocytes also flow anteriorly from the SVZ in association with the rostral migratory stream, but do not penetrate into the deeper layers of the olfactory bulb. Production of new astrocytes from nestin(+) NPCs is absent in the normal adult cortex, striatum, and spinal cord. Our study is the first to demonstrate ongoing SVZ astrogliogenesis in the normal adult mammalian forebrain. Copyright © 2015 the authors 0270-6474/15/353756-08$15.00/0.


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