Identity, Fate and Potential of Cells Grown as Neurospheres: Species Matters
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It is commonly accepted that adult neurogenesis and gliogenesis follow the same principles through the mammalian class. However, it has been reported that neurogenesis might differ between species, even from the same order, like in rodents. Currently, it is not known if neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs) from various species differ in their cell identity and potential. NSPCs can be expanded ex vivo as neurospheres (NSph), a model widely used to study neurogenesis in vitro. Here we demonstrate that rat (r) and mouse (m) NSph display different cell identities, differentiation fate, electrophysiological function and tumorigenic potential. Adult rNSph consist mainly of oligodendroglial progenitors (OPCs), which after repeated passaging proliferate independent of mitogens, whereas adult mNSph show astroglial precursor-like characteristics and retain their mitogen dependency. Most of the cells in rNSph express OPC markers and spontaneously differentiate into oligodendrocytes after growth factor withdrawal. Electrophysiological analysis confirmed OPC characteristics. mNSph have different electrophysiological properties, they express astrocyte precursor markers and spontaneously differentiate primarily into astrocytes. Furthermore, rNSph have the potential to differentiate into oligodendrocytes and astrocytes, whereas mNSph are restricted to the astrocytic lineage. The phenotypic differences between rNSph and mNSph were not due to a distinct response to species specific derived growth factors and are probably not caused by autocrine mechanisms. Our findings suggest that NSph derived from adult rat and mouse brains display different cell identities. Thus, results urge for caution when data derived from NSph are extrapolated to other species or to the in vivo situation, especially when aimed towards the clinical use of human NSph.
KeywordsAdult neural stem cells Cell phenotype Differentiation potential Cell fate Glial progenitor cells
The authors would like to thank the following funding agencies for their support: the Bavarian State Ministry of Sciences, Research and the Arts (ForNeuroCell grant to C.S. and A.-M.P.), the Germany Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF grants #01GG0706, #01GN0979; #0312134; #01GN0505; NGFNplus Brain Tumor Network. Subproject 7 #01GS0887), Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Georg Forster Program to F.J.R.), Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft (DFG grant #AI31/3-1, #AI31/4-1) and by the state of Salzburg. We disclose any conflict of interest.
The authors indicate no potential conflicts of interest.