Stem cells in the adult mammalian brain
Stem cells in the adult mammalian brain continuously give rise to new neurons that functionally integrate into circuits in restricted brain regions. They reside in specialized microenvironments, or niches, that support their life-long self-renewal and differentiation, and respond dynamically to different signals.
The aim of our research is to define the identity, lineages and regulation of adult neural stem cells. Adult neural stem cells are a subset of glial cells, raising the possibility that glial cells in other brain regions are latent stem cells. Using novel approaches to purify stem cells directly from their in vivo niche, we are investigating the intrinsic and extrinsic regulation underlying stem cell quiescence, activation, and differentiation.
We are defining the in vivo heterogeneity and potential of adult neural stem cells, and their gene regulatory networks. In addition, we are investigating different compartments of the niche, and how these change under distinct physiological states, including regeneration and aging. Together, this research will illuminate the biology of stem cells in the adult mammalian brain.
A reservoir of cells for brain repair?
Endogenous neural stem cells may be a reservoir of cells that can be harnessed for brain repair, as well as cells that can become dysregulated in pathological states and for example, may be a source of brain tumors. By defining the biology of adult neural stem cells and their interactions with their in vivo niche, new insights may be gained into how to stimulate neural stem cells for brain repair, as well as how they may contribute to brain pathologies.