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New neurons and glial cells are generated in an extensive germinal niche adjacent to the walls of the lateral ventricles in the adult brain. The primary progenitors (B1 cells) have astroglial characteristics but retain important neuroepithelial properties. Recent work shows how B1 cells contact all major compartments of this niche. They share the "shoreline" on the ventricles with ependymal cells, forming a unique adult ventricular zone (VZ). In the subventricular zone (SVZ), B1 cells contact transit amplifying (type C) cells, chains of young neurons (A cells), and blood vessels. How signals from these compartments influence the behavior of B1 or C cells remains largely unknown, but recent work highlights growth factors, neurotransmitters, morphogens, and the extracellular matrix as key regulators of this niche. The integration of emerging molecular and anatomical clues forecasts an exciting new understanding of how the germ of youth is actively maintained in the adult brain.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.