Neural Progenitor Cells in Cerebral Cortex of Epilepsy Patients do not Originate from Astrocytes Expressing GLAST

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Adult neurogenesis in human brain is known to occur in the hippocampus, the subventricular zone, and the striatum. Neural progenitor cells (NPCs) were reported in the cortex of epilepsy patients; however, their identity is not known. Since astrocytes were proposed as the source of neural progenitors in both healthy and diseased brain, we tested the hypothesis that NPCs in the epileptic cortex originate from reactive, alternatively, de-differentiated astrocytes that express glutamate aspartate transporter (GLAST). We assessed the capacity to form neurospheres and the differentiation potential of cells dissociated from fresh cortical tissue from patients who underwent surgical treatment for pharmacologically intractable epilepsy. Neurospheres were generated from 57% of cases (8/14). Upon differentiation, the neurosphere cells gave rise to neurons, oligodendrocytes, and astrocytes. Sorting of dissociated cells showed that only cells negative for GLAST formed neurospheres. In conclusion, we show that cells with neural stem cell properties are present in brain cortex of epilepsy patients, and that these cells are not GLAST-positive astrocytes.

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