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Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, Neuroscience, Nanovaccine Institute

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Neural Regeneration Research





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Stem cells derived from adult tissues have long been considered multipotent, able to differentiate into a limited number of cell types found in their tissue of origin. Embryonic stem cells, in contrast, are pluripotent, which may differentiate into almost all cell types. With the ability to create induced pluripotent stem cells from somatic cells now available, the properties of multipotent stem cells are being re-evaluated. If adult cells may be reverted to pluripotent stem cells, can multipotent stem cells also be manipulated towards pluripotency? Advancements in biotechnology now allow for better methods to investigate stem cell plasticity, such as the relative influence of external versus intrinsic factors on cell fate. Recent studies indicate that adult neural stem cells (NSCs) demonstrate greater plasticity under certain conditions, resulting in the derivation of a variety of cell types including muscle, hematopoietic, and epithelial cells. This suggests that NSCs may provide a potential source of rare cell types for clinical application as an alternative to embryonic stem cells. Producing rare cell types from NSCs rather than embryonic stem cells avoids the ethical issues surrounding the use of this cell type. Further, NSCs may be an advantageous source compared to induced pluripotent stem cells, which are difficult to create, expensive, and time-consuming to develop.

Adult NSCs have the ability to form neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes in vitro. More recently, evidence has arisen which indicates adult NSCs may have extended plasticity. Studies have demonstrated differentiation into cell types of all three germ layers through a variety of methods.


This article is published as Sandquist EJ, Sakaguchi DS (2019) Adult neural stem cell plasticity. Neural Regen Res 14(2):256-257. doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.244785.

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Neural Regeneration Research



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