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Published April 2001 | public
Journal Article

Stem Cells and Pattern Formation in the Nervous System: The Possible versus the Actual


Neural stem cells (NSCs) are broadly defined as multipotent, self-renewing progenitor cells. In the central nervous system (CNS), these cells generate neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. In the peripheral nervous system (PNS), they generate neurons, Schwann cells, and other neural crest derivatives such as smooth muscle cells. Over the past few years, remarkable progress has been made in identifying and understanding the properties of these elusive cells. Yet recently there has been a quantal increase in the attention afforded stem cells, in both the scientific and lay communities. What accounts for this heightened level of interest? What do we really know about these cells, and what remains to be learned?

Additional Information

© 2001 Cell Press. Under an Elsevier user license. Available online 11 May 2004. I thank Rusty Gage, Tom Jessell, Nirao Shah, and Liching Lo for their helpful comments on the manuscript, members of my laboratory for thoughtful discussion, and Prof. Nicole LeDouarin and the College de France for providing an environment conducive to writing this review. I apologize to those authors whose work was inadvertently overlooked or omitted due to space limitations. The author (D. J. A.) is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

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