Adult neurogenesis has been a difficult process to study for the simple reason that visualizing and following the stem cells and their progenies in vivo are difficult. Currently available BrdU and viral-marker based methods can only achieved transient labeling and in small populations of adult neural stem cells. Their uses are limited in trying to visualize and follow adult neurogenesis over time. UCSF investigators have created a mouse model in which a large population of adult neural stem cells and their progenies can be labeled and traced in vivo.
The mammalian central nervous system (CNS) is a complex structure that arises from multi-potent neural stem cells during embryogenesis. In adults, these neural stem cells persist in specialized regions of the CNS, and contribute to continued neurogenesis throughout the life of the animal. Although adult neurogenesis has been mostly studied in rodents, similar stem cells have been identified in humans as well. The exact functional significance of adult neurogenesis is currently unknown. However, it has been linked to many behavioral and disease processes including memory formation, anxiety, neural degeneration, brain tumors, and brain repairs following trauma.Using the cre-lox technology, UCSF investigators have created a mouse model in which a large population of adult neural stem cells and their progenies can be labeled and traced in vivo, following a simple protocol. This current UCSF technology provides continuous labeling of adult neural stem cells and their progenies and shows unprecedented clarity in visualizing adult neurogenesis, all with minimal background labeling of unrelated CNS cells. This mouse model represents a leap forward in our abilities to understand adult neurogenesis.
Reference: Kuo, CT et al. Postnatal deletion of Numb/Numblike reveals repair and remodeling capacity in the subventricular neurogenic niche. Cell 2006 Dec 15;127(6):1253-64.