Being a Neural Stem Cell: A Matter of Character But Defined by the Microenvironment

  • Evangelia Andreopoulou
  • Asterios Arampatzis
  • Melina Patsoni
  • Ilias KazanisEmail author
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 1041)


The cells that build the nervous system, either this is a small network of ganglia or a complicated primate brain, are called neural stem and progenitor cells. Even though the very primitive and the very recent neural stem cells (NSCs) share common basic characteristics that are hard-wired within their character, such as the expression of transcription factors of the SoxB family, their capacity to give rise to extremely different neural tissues depends significantly on instructions from the microenvironment. In this chapter we explore the nature of the NSC microenvironment, looking through evolution, embryonic development, maturity and even disease. Experimental work undertaken over the last 20 years has revealed exciting insight into the NSC microcosmos. NSCs are very capable in producing their own extracellular matrix and in regulating their behaviour in an autocrine and paracrine manner. Nevertheless, accumulating evidence indicates an important role for the vasculature, especially within the NSC niches of the postnatal brain; while novel results reveal direct links between the metabolic state of the organism and the function of NSCs.


Neural stem cell Development Evolution Extracellular matrix Vasculature Cancer 



IK was supported by funding from Action Medical Research, UK (GN2291). The authors would like to thank Ms. Kassandra- Danai Meri for providing the original image in Fig. 6.1e.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Evangelia Andreopoulou
    • 1
  • Asterios Arampatzis
    • 2
    • 3
  • Melina Patsoni
    • 1
  • Ilias Kazanis
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Lab of Developmental Biology, Department of BiologyUniversity of PatrasPatrasGreece
  2. 2.Wellcome Trust- MRC Cambridge Stem Cell Biology InstituteUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.School of MedicineAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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