Neural stem cells are present both in the developing nervous system
and in the adult nervous system of all mammals, including humans.
Little is known, however, about the extent to which stem cells in
adults can give rise to new neurons. We used immunocytochemistry,
electron microscopy, fluorescence microscopy (FM imaging) and electrophysiology
to demonstrate that progeny of adult rat neural stem cells, when
co-cultured with primary neurons and astrocytes from neonatal hippocampus,
develop into electrically active neurons and integrate into neuronal
networks with functional synaptic transmission. We also found that
functional neurogenesis from adult stem cells is possible in co-culture
with astrocytes from neonatal and adult hippocampus. These studies
show that neural stem cells derived from adult tissues, like those
derived from embryonic tissues, retain the potential to differentiate
into functional neurons with essential properties of mature CNS neurons.
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