Review

Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 305, Issue 2, pp 187-202

Neurotransmitters as early signals for central nervous system development

  • Laurent NguyenAffiliated withCenter for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, University of Liège, 17 Place Delcour, 4020 Liège, Belgium
  • , Jean-Michel RigoAffiliated withCenter for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, University of Liège, 17 Place Delcour, 4020 Liège, Belgium
  • , Véronique RocherAffiliated withCenter for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, University of Liège, 17 Place Delcour, 4020 Liège, Belgium
  • , Shibeshih BelachewAffiliated withCenter for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, University of Liège, 17 Place Delcour, 4020 Liège, Belgium
  • , Brigitte MalgrangeAffiliated withCenter for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, University of Liège, 17 Place Delcour, 4020 Liège, Belgium
  • , Bernard RogisterAffiliated withCenter for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, University of Liège, 17 Place Delcour, 4020 Liège, Belgium
  • , Pierre LeprinceAffiliated withCenter for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, University of Liège, 17 Place Delcour, 4020 Liège, Belgium
  • , Gustave MoonenAffiliated withCenter for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, University of Liège, 17 Place Delcour, 4020 Liège, Belgium

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Abstract.

During brain ontogenesis, the temporal and spatial generation of the different types of neuronal and glial cells from precursors occurs as a sequence of successive progenitor stages whose proliferation, survival and cell-fate choice are controlled by environmental and cellular regulatory molecules. Neurotransmitters belong to the chemical microenvironment of neural cells, even at the earliest stages of brain development. It is now established that specific neurotransmitter receptors are present on progenitor cells of the developing central nervous system and could play, during neural development, a role that has remained unsuspected until recently. The present review focuses on the occurrence of neurotransmitters and their corresponding ligand-gated ion channel receptors in immature cells, including neural stem cells of specific embryonic and neonatal brain regions. We summarize in vitro and in vivo data arguing that neurotransmitters could regulate morphogenetic events such as proliferation, growth, migration, differentiation and survival of neural precursor cells. The understanding of neurotransmitter function during early neural maturation could lead to the development of pharmacological tools aimed at improving adult brain repair strategies.

Ligand-gated ion channels Neural progenitors Neurotransmitters Proliferation Migration Differentiation Survival