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Brain repair from intrinsic cell sources: Turning reactive glia into neurons

Prog Brain Res. 2017;230:69-97. doi: 10.1016/bs.pbr.2016.12.010. Epub 2017 Feb 7.

Authors/Editors: Torper O, Götz M.
Publication Date: 2017

2017_02_torper

Abstract

The replacement of lost neurons in the brain due to injury or disease holds great promise for the treatment of neurological disorders. However, logistical and ethical hurdles in obtaining and maintaining viable cells for transplantation have proven difficult to overcome. In vivo reprogramming offers an alternative, to bypass many of the restrictions associated with an exogenous cell source as it relies on a source of cells already present in the brain. Recent studies have demonstrated the possibility to target and reprogram glial cells into functional neurons with high efficiency in the murine brain, using virally delivered transcription factors. In this chapter, we explore the different populations of glial cells, how they react to injury and how they can be exploited for reprogramming purposes. Further, we review the most significant publications and how they have contributed to the understanding of key aspects in direct reprogramming needed to take into consideration, like timing, cell type targeted, and regional differences. Finally, we discuss future challenges and what remains to be explored in order to determine the potential of in vivo reprogramming for future brain repair.

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