Isolation and expansion of neural stem cells (NSCs) of human origin are crucial for successful development of cell therapy approaches in neurodegenerative diseases. Different epigenetic and genetic immortalization strategies have been established for long-term maintenance and expansion of these cells in vitro. Here we report the generation of a new, clonal NSC (hc-NSC) line, derived from human fetal cortical tissue, based on v-myc immortalization. Using immunocytochemistry, we show that these cells retain the characteristics of NSCs after more than 50 passages. Under proliferation conditions, when supplemented with epidermal and basic fibroblast growth factors, the hc-NSCs expressed neural stem/progenitor cell markers like nestin, vimentin and Sox2. When growth factors were withdrawn, proliferation and expression of v-myc and telomerase were dramatically reduced, and the hc-NSCs differentiated into glia and neurons (mostly glutamatergic and GABAergic, as well as tyrosine hydroxylase-positive, presumably dopaminergic neurons). RT-PCR analysis showed that the hc-NSCs retained expression of Pax6, Emx2 and Neurogenin2, which are genes associated with regionalization and cell commitment in cortical precursors during brain development. Our data indicate that this hc-NSC line could be useful for exploring the potential of human NSCs to replace dead or damaged cortical cells in animal models of acute and chronic neurodegenerative diseases. Taking advantage of its clonality and homogeneity, this cell line will also be a valuable experimental tool to study the regulatory role of intrinsic and extrinsic factors in human NSC biology. © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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