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Postnatal Cerebral Cortical Multipotent Progenitors: Regulatory Mechanisms and Potential Role in the Development of Novel Neural Regenerative Strategies

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In the developing postnatal cerebral cortex, protracted generation of glia and neurons occurs and precise matching of local cell types is needed for the functional organization of regional microdomains characteristic of complex CNS tissues. Recent studies have suggested that multipotent progenitors play an important role in neural lineage elaboration during neurogenesis and gliogenesis after migration from paramedian generative zones. The presence of a separate reservoir of cerebral cortical multipotent cells under strict local environmental regulation would provide an appropriate mechanism for terminal developmental sculpting and for reconstitution of regional cellular pools after injury. We have isolated distinct pools of EGF‐ and bFGF‐responsive multipotent progenitors from the postnatal mammalian cerebral cortex independent of the subventricular zone. These progenitor populations are under tight environmental regulation by specific hierarchies of cytokine subclasses that program the progressive elaboration of intermediate lineage‐restricted progenitors and differentiated type I and II astrocytes, myelinating oligodendrocytes and neuronal subtypes that express specific neuromodulatory proteins. Neural lineage development from these cortical multipotent progenitors is a graded developmental process involving sequential induction of specific cytokine receptors, acquisition of factor responsiveness and complex lineage interdependence. The cortical multipotent progenitor pathways program the elaboration of neural lineage species with distinct cellular response properties when compared with analogous species derived from subventricular zone progenitors, indicating that the cortical multipotent cells contribute to the establishment of lineage diversity within the developing cortical cortex. In addition, the cortical multipotent cells generate dynamic intermediate progenitor pools that utilize temporally‐coded environmental cues to alter neural fate decisions. These cumulative observations suggest that postnatal cerebral cortical multipotent cells represent a novel set of progenitor pathways necessary for normal mammalian cortical maturation, and may have important implications for our understanding of a wide variety of neuropathological conditions and for the development of more effective regenerative strategies to combat these pervasive neurological disorders.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Departments of Neurology, Neuroscience and Psychiatry and the Rose F. Kennedy Center for Research in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, Albert Einstein Coll. of Medicine, Bronx, New York 10461

Publication date: July 1, 1999

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