Adult neural stem cells reside in a specialized niche that supports their self-renewal and maintains their ability to generate neurons. When removed from the niche and transplanted into non-neurogenic sites, stem cells make few, if any, neurons. Understanding the interaction between stem cells and their microenvironment in adult neurogenic zones such as the forebrain sub-ventricular zone (SVZ) is an important step towards the long-term goal of designing novel therapeutic strategies for CMS repair. We recently discovered that stem cells reside close to blood vessels in the SVZ, and that endothelial cells dramatically stimulate neural stem cell self-renewal and neuron-production. This suggests endothelial cells are a key component of the neural stem cell niche, and could be a target for manipulating endogenous or transplanted stem cells.
We aim to understand the in vivo relationship between endothelial cells and neural stem cells in the adult mouse SVZ. Detailed spatial characterization in brain sections and whole mount SVZ tissue will be carried out using immunohistochemistry, 2D and 3D image analysis with quantification. We will investigate whether stem cells in the SVZ home to endothelial cells by transplanting marked stem cells into the normal SVZ. The disposition and fate of embryonic or adult enriched neural stem cells transplanted into the niche will be examined. This will allow us to address the important question of whether cortical stem cells continue to make pyramidal projection neurons in this adult neurogenic niche. We will examine expression and function of vascular adhesion molecule (VCAM-1), which is up-regulated in neural stem cells exposed to endothelial factors, and which plays a critical role in blood stem cell homing, adhesion and self-renewal but which has not yet been examined in the neural system. This will be done in vitro and in vivo using lentiviral siRNA knockdown and overexpression. Finally, we will carry out a comparative proteomics study to identify factors released by endothelial cells, candidates for self-renewal and neurogenic factors.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Neurogenesis and Cell Fate Study Section (NCF)
Program Officer
Owens, David F
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Regenerative Research Foundation
United States
Zip Code
Kokovay, Erzsebet; Wang, Yue; Kusek, Gretchen et al. (2012) VCAM1 is essential to maintain the structure of the SVZ niche and acts as an environmental sensor to regulate SVZ lineage progression. Cell Stem Cell 11:220-30
Narayanaswamy, Arunachalam; Dwarakapuram, Saritha; Bjornsson, Christopher S et al. (2010) Robust adaptive 3-D segmentation of vessel laminae from fluorescence confocal microscope images and parallel GPU implementation. IEEE Trans Med Imaging 29:583-97
Kokovay, Erzsebet; Goderie, Susan; Wang, Yue et al. (2010) Adult SVZ lineage cells home to and leave the vascular niche via differential responses to SDF1/CXCR4 signaling. Cell Stem Cell 7:163-73
Shen, Qin; Wang, Yue; Kokovay, Erzsebet et al. (2008) Adult SVZ stem cells lie in a vascular niche: a quantitative analysis of niche cell-cell interactions. Cell Stem Cell 3:289-300