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Research Database PMU-SQQUID

Identity, fate and potential of cells grown as neurospheres: species matters.
Steffenhagen, C; Kraus, S; Dechant, FX; Kandasamy, M; Lehner, B; Poehler, AM; Furtner, T; Siebzehnrubl, FA; Couillard-Despres, S; Strauss, O; Aigner, L; Rivera, FJ;
Stem Cell Rev. 2011; 7(4):81-35
Originalarbeiten (Zeitschrift)


Aigner Ludwig
Couillard-Despr├ęs S├ębastien
Rivera Gomez-Barris Francisco J.


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.

Useful keywords (using NLM MeSH Indexing)




Biological Markers/metabolism

Cell Adhesion

Cell Aggregation

Cell Count

Cell Culture Techniques

Cell Differentiation*

Cell Lineage

Cell Proliferation

Cells, Cultured

Chromosomes, Mammalian/genetics

Culture Media, Conditioned



Membrane Potentials


Mice, Inbred C57BL

Neural Stem Cells/cytology*

Neural Stem Cells/metabolism



Patch-Clamp Techniques


Rats, Inbred F344

Species Specificity

Find related publications in this database (Keywords)

Adult neural stem cells
Cell phenotype
Differentiation potential
Cell fate
Glial progenitor cells