Open Access
The spinal cord ependymal region: a stem cell niche in the caudal central nervous system
Jean Philippe Hugnot1,Rachelle Franzen1
INSERM U583, Physiopathologie et Therapie des deficits sensoriels et moteurs, Institut des Neurosciences de Montpellier, Hopital St ELOI, BP 74103 80, av Augustin Fliche 34091 Montpellier Cedex 05, France
DOI: 10.2741/3734 Volume 16 Issue 3, pp.1044-1059
Published: 01 January 2011

In the brain, specific signalling pathways localized in highly organized regions called niches, allow the persistence of a pool of stem and progenitor cells that generate new neurons and glial cells in adulthood. Much less is known on the spinal cord central canal niche where a sustained adult neurogenesis is not observed. Here we review our current knowledge of this caudal niche in normal and pathological situations. Far from being a simple layer of homogenous cells, this region is composed of several cell types localized at specific locations, expressing characteristic markers and with different morphologies and functions. We further report on a screen of online gene-expression databases to better define this spinal cord niche. Several genes were found to be preferentially expressed within or around the central canal region (Bmp6, CXCR4, Gdf10, Fzd3, Mdk, Nrtn, Rbp1, Shh, Sox4, Wnt7a) some of which by specific cellular subtypes. In depth characterization of the spinal cord niche constitutes a framework to make the most out of this endogenous cell pool in spinal cord disorders.

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Jean Philippe Hugnot, Rachelle Franzen. The spinal cord ependymal region: a stem cell niche in the caudal central nervous system. Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark. 2011. 16(3); 1044-1059.