The mammalian brain has been perceived as a quiescent organ incapable of postnatal neurogenesis for many years. Most recently, several studies have demonstrated that the adult mammalian brain is indeed capable of neurogenesis and that the process is primarily confined to the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the forebrain and the subgranular zone (SGZ) of the hippocampus. Of these regions, the SVZ is the largest niche of neurogenesis in the adult mammalian brain. Within this niche resides a subpopulation of astrocytes with stem cell-like features of self-renewal and multipotentiality. Interestingly, there is also a subpopulation of cells within brain tumors that possess these same characteristics. Based on these findings, the emerging hypothesis is that brain tumor stem cells may be derived from neural stem cells and that both of these populations may originate from the SVZ. This possible connection stresses the importance of studying and understanding the role that the human SVZ plays in not only harboring neural and brain tumor stem cells, but how this microenvironment may support both neurogenesis and tumorigenesis. Furthermore, the obvious differences in the SVZ between humans and other animals make it important to understand the human model when studying human disease. Such an understanding may lead to novel therapeutic strategies for both neurodegenerative diseases and currently intractable brain tumors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience