Transcriptional regulation of the mouse doublecortin gene in differentiating neurons
Plumier, Jean-Christophe ; Muller, Marc ; Rogister, Bernard et al
in International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience (2006), 24Detailed reference viewed: 5 (2 ULg)
Developmental regulation of beta-carboline-induced inhibition of glycine-evoked responses depends on glycine receptor beta subunit expression
; Nguyen, Laurent ; et al
in Molecular Pharmacology (2005), 67(5), 1783-1796
In this work, we show that beta-carbolines, which are known negative allosteric modulators of GABA A receptors, inhibit glycine-induced currents of embryonic mouse spinal cord and hippocampal neurons. In ... [more ▼]
In this work, we show that beta-carbolines, which are known negative allosteric modulators of GABA A receptors, inhibit glycine-induced currents of embryonic mouse spinal cord and hippocampal neurons. In both cell types, beta-carboline-induced inhibition of glycine receptor (GlyR)-mediated responses decreases with time in culture. Single-channel recordings show that the major conductance levels of GlyR unitary currents shifts from high levels (>= 50 pS) in 2 to 3 days in vitro (DIV) neurons to low levels (< 50 pS) in 11 to 14 DIV neurons, assessing the replacement of functional homomeric GlyR by heteromeric GlyR. In cultured spinal cord neurons, the disappearance of beta-carboline inhibition of glycine responses and high conductance levels is almost complete in mature neurons, whereas a weaker decrease in beta-carboline-evoked glycine response inhibition and high conductance level proportion is observed in hippocampal neurons. To confirm the hypothesis that the decreased sensitivity of GlyR to beta-carbolines depends on beta subunit expression, Chinese hamster ovary cells were permanently transfected either with GlyR alpha 2 subunit alone or in combination with GlyR beta subunit. Single-channel recordings revealed that the major conductance levels shifted from high levels (>= 50 pS) in GlyR-alpha 2-transfected cells to low levels (< 50 pS) in GlyR-alpha 2-containing cells. Consistently, both picrotoxinand beta-carboline-induced inhibition of glycine-gated currents were significantly decreased in GlyR-alpha 2-transfected cells compared with GlyR-alpha 2-containing cells. In summary, we demonstrate that the incorporation of beta subunits in GlyRs confers resistance not only to picrotoxin but also to beta-carbolineinduced inhibition. Furthermore, we also provide evidence that hippocampal neurons undergo in vitro a partial maturation process of their GlyR-mediated responses. [less ▲]Detailed reference viewed: 57 (3 ULg)
Peripheral benzodiazepine receptor (PBR) ligand cytotoxicity unrelated to PBR expression
Hans, Grégory ; Wislet, Sabine ; et al
in Biochemical Pharmacology (2005), 69(5), 819-830
Some synthetic ligands of the peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor (PBR), an 18 kDa protein of the outer mitochondrial membrane, are cytotoxic for several tumor cell lines and arise as promising ... [more ▼]
Some synthetic ligands of the peripheral-type benzodiazepine receptor (PBR), an 18 kDa protein of the outer mitochondrial membrane, are cytotoxic for several tumor cell lines and arise as promising chemotherapeutic candidates. However, conflicting results were reported regarding the actual effect of these drugs on cellular survival ranging from protection to toxicity. Moreover, the concentrations needed to observe such a toxicity were usually high, far above the affinity range for their receptor, hence questioning its specificity. In the present study, we have shown that micromolar concentrations of FGIN-1-27 And Ro 5-4864, two chemically unrelated PBR ligands are toxic for both PBR-expressing SK-N-BE neuroblastoma cells and PBR-deficient Jurkat lymphoma cells. We have thereby demonstrated that the cytotoxicity of these drugs is unrelated to their PBR-binding activity. Moreover, Ro 54864-induced cell death differed strikingly between both cell types, being apoptotic in Jurkat cells while necrotic in SK-N-BE cells. Again, this did not seem to be related to PBR expression since Ro 5-4864-induced death of PBR-transfected Jurkat cells remained apoptotic. Taken together, our results show that PBR is unlikely to mediate all the effects of these PBR ligands. They however confirm that some of these ligands are very effective cytotoxic drugs towards various cancer cells, even for reputed chemoresistant tumors such as neuroblastoma, and, surprisingly, also for PBR-lacking tumor cells. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. [less ▲]Detailed reference viewed: 70 (8 ULg)
beta-carbolines induce apoptosis in cultured cerebellar granule neurons via the mitochondrial pathway
Hans, Grégory ; Malgrange, Brigitte ; et al
in Neuropharmacology (2005), 48(1), 105-117
N-Butyl-beta-carboline-3-carboxylate (betaCCB) is, together with 2-methyl-norharmanium and 2,9-dimethylnorharmanium ions, an endogenously occurring beta-carboline. Due to their structural similarities ... [more ▼]
N-Butyl-beta-carboline-3-carboxylate (betaCCB) is, together with 2-methyl-norharmanium and 2,9-dimethylnorharmanium ions, an endogenously occurring beta-carboline. Due to their structural similarities with the synthetic neurotoxin 1-methy14-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), harman and norharman compounds have been proposed to be involved in the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. While also structurally related, betaCCB has received much less interest in that respect although we had previously demonstrated that it induces the apoptotic cell death of cultured cerebellar granule neurons (CGNs). Herein, we have investigated the molecular events leading to CGN apoptosis upon betaCCB treatment. We first demonstrated that betaCCB-induced apoptosis occurs in neurons only, most likely as a consequence of a specific neuronal uptake as shown using binding/uptake experiments. Then we observed that, in betaCCB-treated CGNs, caspases 9, 3 and 8 were successively activated, suegesing an activation of the mitochondrial pathway. Consistently, betaCCB also induced the release from the mitochondrial intermembrane space of two pro-apoptotic factors. i.e. cytochrome c and apotptosis inducing factor (AIF). Interestingly, no mitochondrial membrane depolarisation was associated with this release. suggesting a mitochondrial permeability transition pore-independent mechanism. The absence of any neuroprotective effect provided by two mPTP inhibitors. i.e. cyclosporine A and bongkrekic acid. further supported this hypothesis. Together. these results show that betaCCB is specifically taken up by neuronal cells where it triggers a specific permeabilization of the outer mitochondrial membrane and a subsequent apoptotic cell death. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. [less ▲]Detailed reference viewed: 58 (14 ULg)
Astrocytic and neuronal fate of mesenchymal stem cells expressing nestin.
Wislet-Gendebien, Sabine ; Wautier, Franz ; Leprince, Pierre et al
in Brain Research Bulletin (2005), 68(1-2), 95-102
Classically, bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) differentiate in vivo or in vitro into osteocytes, chondrocytes, fibroblasts and adipocytes. Recently, it was reported by several groups that MSC can ... [more ▼]
Classically, bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) differentiate in vivo or in vitro into osteocytes, chondrocytes, fibroblasts and adipocytes. Recently, it was reported by several groups that MSC can also adopt a neural fate in appropriate in vivo or in vitro experimental conditions. However, it is unclear if those cells are really able to differentiate into functional neural cells and in particular into functional neurons. Some observations suggest that a cell fusion process underlies the neural fate adoption by MSC in vivo and first attempts to reproduce in vitro this neural fate decision in MSC cultures were unsuccessful. More recently, however, in several laboratories including ours, differentiation of MSC cultivated from adult rat bone marrow into astrocytes and neuron-like cells was demonstrated. More precisely, we stressed the importance of the expression by MSC of nestin, an intermediate filament protein associated with immaturity in the nervous system, as a pre-requisite to adopting an astrocytic or a neuronal fate in a co-culture paradigm. Using this approach, we have also demonstrated that the MSC-derived neuron-like cells exhibit several electrophysiological key properties classically devoted to neurons, including firing of action potentials. In this review, we will discuss the neurogenic potential of MSC, the factor(s) required for such plasticity, the molecular mechanism(s) underlying this neural plasticity, the importance of the environment of MSC to adopt this neural fate and the therapeutic potential of these observations. [less ▲]Detailed reference viewed: 59 (9 ULg)
Plasticity of cultured mesenchymal stem cells: switch from nestin-positive to excitable neuron-like phenotype.
Wislet-Gendebien, Sabine ; Hans, Grégory ; Leprince, Pierre et al
in Stem Cells (2005), 23(3), 392-402
Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can differentiate into several types of mesenchymal cells, including osteocytes, chondrocytes, and adipocytes, but, under appropriate experimental conditions, can ... [more ▼]
Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) can differentiate into several types of mesenchymal cells, including osteocytes, chondrocytes, and adipocytes, but, under appropriate experimental conditions, can also differentiate into nonmesenchymal cells--for instance, neural cells. These observations have raised interest in the possible use of MSCs in cell therapy strategies for various neurological disorders. In the study reported here, we addressed the question of in vitro differentiation of MSCs into functional neurons. First, we demonstrate that when they are co-cultured with cerebellar granule neurons, adult MSCs can express neuronal markers. Two factors are needed for the emergence of neuronal differentiation of the MSCs: the first one is nestin expression by MSCs (nestin is a marker for the responsive character of MSCs to extrinsic signals), and the second one is a direct cell-cell interaction between neural cells and MSCs that allows the integration of these extrinsic signals. Three different approaches suggest that neural phenotypes arise from MSCs by a differentiation rather than a cell fusion process, although this last phenomenon can also coexist. The expression of several genes--including sox, pax, notch, delta, frizzled, and erbB--was analyzed by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in order to further characterize the nestin-positive phenotype compared to the nestin-negative one. An overexpression of sox2, sox10, pax6, fzd, erbB2, and erbB4 is found in nestin-positive MSCs. Finally, electrophysiological analyses demonstrate that MSC-derived neuron-like cells can fire single-action potentials and respond to several neurotransmitters such as GABA, glycine, and glutamate. We conclude that nestin-positive MSCs can differentiate in vitro into excitable neuron-like cells. [less ▲]Detailed reference viewed: 58 (4 ULg)
Dexamethasone inhibits the HSV-tk/ ganciclovir bystander effect in malignant glioma cells.
Robe, Pierre ; Nguyen-Khac, Minh-Tuan ; Jolois, Olivier et al
in BMC Cancer (2005), 5
BACKGROUND: HSV-tk/ ganciclovir (GCV) gene therapy has been extensively studied in the setting of brain tumors and largely relies on the bystander effect. Large studies have however failed to demonstrate ... [more ▼]
BACKGROUND: HSV-tk/ ganciclovir (GCV) gene therapy has been extensively studied in the setting of brain tumors and largely relies on the bystander effect. Large studies have however failed to demonstrate any significant benefit of this strategy in the treatment of human brain tumors. Since dexamethasone is a frequently used symptomatic treatment for malignant gliomas, its interaction with the bystander effect and the overall efficacy of HSV-TK gene therapy ought to be assessed. METHODS: Stable clones of TK-expressing U87, C6 and LN18 cells were generated and their bystander effect on wild type cells was assessed. The effects of dexamethasone on cell proliferation and sensitivity to ganciclovir were assessed with a thymidine incorporation assay and a MTT test. Gap junction mediated intercellular communication was assessed with microinjections and FACS analysis of calcein transfer. The effect of dexamethasone treatment on the sensitivity of TK-expressing to FAS-dependent apoptosis in the presence or absence of ganciclovir was assessed with an MTT test. Western blot was used to evidence the effect of dexamethasone on the expression of Cx43, CD95, CIAP2 and BclXL. RESULTS: Dexamethasone significantly reduced the bystander effect in TK-expressing C6, LN18 and U87 cells. This inhibition results from a reduction of the gap junction mediated intercellular communication of these cells (GJIC), from an inhibition of their growth and thymidine incorporation and from a modulation of the apoptotic cascade. CONCLUSION: The overall efficacy of HSV-TK gene therapy is adversely affected by dexamethasone co-treatment in vitro. Future HSV-tk/ GCV gene therapy clinical protocols for gliomas should address this interference of corticosteroid treatment. [less ▲]Detailed reference viewed: 30 (4 ULg)
Nestin-positive mesenchymal stem cells favour the astroglial lineage in neural progenitors and stem cells by releasing active BMP4.
Wislet-Gendebien, Sabine ; Bruyere, Françoise ; Hans, Grégory et al
in BMC Neuroscience (2004), 5
BACKGROUND: Spontaneous repair is limited after CNS injury or degeneration because neurogenesis and axonal regrowth rarely occur in the adult brain. As a result, cell transplantation has raised much ... [more ▼]
BACKGROUND: Spontaneous repair is limited after CNS injury or degeneration because neurogenesis and axonal regrowth rarely occur in the adult brain. As a result, cell transplantation has raised much interest as potential treatment for patients with CNS lesions. Several types of cells have been considered as candidates for such cell transplantation and replacement therapies. Foetal brain tissue has already been shown to have significant effects in patients with Parkinson's disease. Clinical use of the foetal brain tissue is, however, limited by ethical and technical problems as it requires high numbers of grafted foetal cells and immunosuppression. Alternatively, several reports suggested that mesenchymal stem cells, isolated from adult bone marrow, are multipotent cells and could be used in autograft approach for replacement therapies. RESULTS: In this study, we addressed the question of the possible influence of mesenchymal stem cells on neural stem cell fate. We have previously reported that adult rat mesenchymal stem cells are able to express nestin in defined culture conditions (in the absence of serum and after 25 cell population doublings) and we report here that nestin-positive (but not nestin-negative) mesenchymal stem cells are able to favour the astroglial lineage in neural progenitors and stem cells cultivated from embryonic striatum. The increase of the number of GFAP-positive cells is associated with a significant decrease of the number of Tuj1- and O4-positive cells. Using quantitative RT-PCR, we demonstrate that mesenchymal stem cells express LIF, CNTF, BMP2 and BMP4 mRNAs, four cytokines known to play a role in astroglial fate decision. In this model, BMP4 is responsible for the astroglial stimulation and oligodendroglial inhibition, as 1) this cytokine is present in a biologically-active form only in nestin-positive mesenchymal stem cells conditioned medium and 2) anti-BMP4 antibodies inhibit the nestin-positive mesenchymal stem cells conditioned medium inducing effect on astrogliogenesis. CONCLUSIONS: When thinking carefully about mesenchymal stem cells as candidates for cellular therapy in neurological diseases, their effects on resident neural cell fate have to be considered. [less ▲]Detailed reference viewed: 75 (3 ULg)
In vitro and in vivo activity of the nuclear factor-kappa B inhibitor sulfasalazine in human glioblastomas.
Robe, Pierre ; ; et al
in Clinical Cancer Research : An Official Journal of the American Association for Cancer Research (2004), 10(16), 5595-603
Glioblastomas, the most common primary brain cancers, respond poorly to current treatment modalities and carry a dismal prognosis. In this study, we demonstrated that the transcription factor nuclear ... [more ▼]
Glioblastomas, the most common primary brain cancers, respond poorly to current treatment modalities and carry a dismal prognosis. In this study, we demonstrated that the transcription factor nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB is constitutively activated in glioblastoma surgical samples, primary cultures, and cell lines and promotes their growth and survival. Sulfasalazine, an anti-inflammatory drug that specifically inhibits the activation of NF-kappaB, blocked the cell cycle and induced apoptosis in several glioblastoma cell lines and primary cultures, as did gene therapy with a vector encoding a super-repressor of NF-kappaB. In vivo, sulfasalazine also significantly inhibited the growth of experimental human glioblastomas in nude mice brains. Given the documented safety of sulfasalazine in humans, these results may lead the way to a new class of glioma treatment. [less ▲]Detailed reference viewed: 54 (6 ULg)
Kinetic properties of the alpha(2) homo-oligomeric glycine receptor impairs a proper synaptic functioning
; ; et al
in Journal of Physiology-London (2003), 553(2), 369-386
Ionotropic glycine receptors (GlyRs) are present in the central nervous system well before the establishment of synaptic contacts. Immature nerve cells are known, at least in the spinal cord, to express ... [more ▼]
Ionotropic glycine receptors (GlyRs) are present in the central nervous system well before the establishment of synaptic contacts. Immature nerve cells are known, at least in the spinal cord, to express alpha(2) homomeric GlyRs, the properties of which are relatively unknown compared to those of the adult synaptic form of the GlyR (mainly alpha(1)/beta heteromeres). Here, the kinetics properties of GlyRs at the single-channel level have been recorded in real-time by means of the patch-clamp technique in the outside-out configuration coupled with an ultra-fast flow application system (< 100 µs). Recordings were performed on chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells stably transfected with the a, GlyR subunit. We show that the onset, the relaxation and the desensitisation of α(2) homomeric GlyR-mediated currents are slower by one or two orders of magnitude compared to synaptic mature GlyRs and to other ligand-gated ionotropic channels involved in fast synaptic transmission. First latency analysis performed on single GlyR channels revealed that their slow activation time course was due to delayed openings. When synaptic release of glycine was mimicked (1 mM glycine; 1 ms pulse duration), the opening probability of α(2) homomeric GlyRs was low (P-o ≈ 0.1) when compared to mature synaptic GlyRs (P-o = 0.9). This low P-o is likely to be a direct consequence of the relatively slow activation kinetics of α(2) homomeric GlyRs when compared to the activation kinetics of mature α(1)/β GlyRs. Such slow kinetics suggest that embryonic α(2) homomeric GlyRs cannot be activated by fast neurotransmitter release at mature synapses but rather could be suited for a non-synaptic paracrine-like release of agonist, which is known to occur in the embryo. [less ▲]Detailed reference viewed: 7 (0 ULg)
Regulation of neural markers nestin and GFAP expression by cultivated bone marrow stromal cells.
Wislet-Gendebien, Sabine ; Leprince, Pierre ; Moonen, Gustave et al
in Journal of Cell Science (2003), 116(Pt 16), 3295-302
Bone marrow stromal cells can differentiate into many types of mesenchymal cells, i.e. osteocyte, chondrocyte and adipocyte, but can also differentiate into non-mesenchymal cells, i.e. neural cells under ... [more ▼]
Bone marrow stromal cells can differentiate into many types of mesenchymal cells, i.e. osteocyte, chondrocyte and adipocyte, but can also differentiate into non-mesenchymal cells, i.e. neural cells under appropriate in vivo experimental conditions (Kopen et al., 1999; Brazelton et al., 2000; Mezey et al., 2000). This neural phenotypic plasticity allows us to consider the utilization of mesenchymal stem cells as cellular material in regenerative medicine. In this study, we demonstrate that cultured adult rat stromal cells can express nestin, an intermediate filament protein predominantly expressed by neural stem cells. Two factors contribute to the regulation of nestin expression by rat stromal cells: serum in the culture medium inhibits nestin expression and a threshold number of passages must be reached below which nestin expression does not occur. Only nestin-positive rat stromal cells are able to form spheres when they are placed in the culture conditions used for neural stem cells. Likewise, only nestin-positive stromal cells are able to differentiate into GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein)-positive cells when they are co-cultivated with neural stem cells. We thus demonstrated that adult rat stromal cells in culture express nestin in absence of serum after passaging the cells at least ten times, and we suggest that nestin expression by these cells might be a prerequisite for the acquisition of the capacity to progress towards the neural lineage. [less ▲]Detailed reference viewed: 95 (4 ULg)
What are the realistic hopes for remyelinisation in the central nervous system ?
in Bulletin de l'Académie Nationale de Médecine (2003), 158Detailed reference viewed: 30 (0 ULg)
What are the realistic hopes for stem cells in neurological diseases ?
in Bulletin de l'Académie Nationale de Médecine (2003), 158Detailed reference viewed: 9 (2 ULg)
Nestin expression in cultivated mesenchymal stem cells: Regulation and potential role in their neural differentiation
Wislet-Gendebien, Sabine ; Leprince, Pierre ; Moonen, Gustave et al
in Glia (2002, May), (Suppl. 1), 87
Bone marrow stromal cells can differentiate into many types of mesenchymal cells, i.e. osteocyte, chondrocyte, fibroblast and adipocyte, but can also differentiate into non-mesenchymal cell, i.e. neural ... [more ▼]
Bone marrow stromal cells can differentiate into many types of mesenchymal cells, i.e. osteocyte, chondrocyte, fibroblast and adipocyte, but can also differentiate into non-mesenchymal cell, i.e. neural cells in appropriate in vivo experimental conditions (Kopen and al.,PNAS,96, 10711,1999, Brazelton and al, Science, 290,1175, 2000, Mezey and al, Science, 290,1179, 2000). In neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, auto-transplantation of neural cell types derived from mesenchymal stem cells offers the potential of replacing lost cells and recovering lost functions. Nestin is an intermediate filament protein predominantly expressed by neural stem cells and is used to identify neural progenitor. In this study, we demonstrate that cultured rat mesenchymal stem cells (rMSC) can express nestin in appropriate conditions. Two factors contribute to the regulation of nestin expression by rMSC : 1) the presence of serum-derived components in the culture medium which repress nestin expression and 2) the cell’s number of passages. LPA and thrombin mimic this serum effect. Furthermore, when nestin- positive cells are trypsinized and resuspended into culture conditions used for neural stem cells (NSC), sphere formation is observed. Likewise, by co-cultivating nestin-positive rMSC with NSC derived from green mouse, heterogenous spheres were obtained. When those heterogenous spheres are placed on polyornithine-coated surfaces, a differentiation of some rMSC into GFAP-positive cells occurs. These results indicate that nestin expression might be a pre-requisite for the acquisition by rMSC of the capacity to differentiate into some neural cell types. [less ▲]Detailed reference viewed: 88 (3 ULg)
Functional glycine receptors are expressed by postnatal nestin-positive neural stem/progenitor cells
Nguyen, Laurent ; Malgrange, Brigitte ; Belachew, Shibeshih et al
in European Journal of Neuroscience (2002), 15(8), 1299-1305
Multipotent neural stem and progenitor cells (NS/PCs) are well-established cell subpopulations occurring in the developing, and also in the mature mammalian nervous systems. Trophic and transcription ... [more ▼]
Multipotent neural stem and progenitor cells (NS/PCs) are well-established cell subpopulations occurring in the developing, and also in the mature mammalian nervous systems. Trophic and transcription factors are currently the main signals known to influence the development and the commitment of NS/PCs and their progeny. However, recent studies suggest that neurotransmitters could also contribute to neural development. In that respect, rodent-cultured embryonic NS/PCs have been reported to express functional neurotransmitter receptors. No similar investigation has, however, been made in postnatal and/or in adult rodent brain stem cells. In this study, using RT-PCR and immunocytochemical methods, we show that alpha(1) -, alpha(2) - and beta-subunit mRNAs and alpha-subunit proteins of the glycine ionotropic receptor are expressed by 80.5 +/- 0.9% of postnatal rat striatum-derived, nestin-positive cells within cultured neurospheres. Whole-cell patch-clamp experiments further demonstrated that glycine triggers in 33.5% of these cells currents that can be reversibly blocked by strychnine and picrotoxin. This demonstrates that NS/PCs express functional glycine receptors, the consequence(s) of their activation remaining unknown. [less ▲]Detailed reference viewed: 23 (1 ULg)
Proliferative generation of mammalian auditory hair cells in culture
Malgrange, Brigitte ; Belachew, Shibeshih ; Thiry, Marc et al
in Mechanisms of Development (2002), 112(1-2), 79-88Detailed reference viewed: 33 (4 ULg)
Quels espoirs de remyélinisation dans la sclérose en plaques ?
Rogister, Bernard ; Wislet, Sabine ; Belachew, Shibeshih
in Agenda Psychiatrie (L') (2002), 24Detailed reference viewed: 47 (7 ULg)
Les facteurs neurotrophiques : un mythe thérapeutique ?
in Ahead in Neurology (2002), 5(1), 3-20Detailed reference viewed: 18 (0 ULg)
Etude moléculaire et cellulaire des phénomènes de plasticité phénotypique nerveuse des cellules souches mésenchymateuses.
Wislet, Sabine ; Rogister, Bernard
Conference (2002)Detailed reference viewed: 11 (0 ULg)
Neurotransmitters as Early Signals for Central Nervous System Development
Nguyen, Laurent ; ; et al
in Cell & Tissue Research (2001), 305(2), 187-202
During brain ontogenesis, the temporal and spatial generation of the different types of neuronal and glial cells from precursors occurs as a sequence of successive progenitor stages whose proliferation ... [more ▼]
During brain ontogenesis, the temporal and spatial generation of the different types of neuronal and glial cells from precursors occurs as a sequence of successive progenitor stages whose proliferation, survival and cell-fate choice are controlled by environmental and cellular regulatory molecules. Neurotransmitters belong to the chemical microenvironment of neural cells, even at the earliest stages of brain development. It is now established that specific neurotransmitter receptors are present on progenitor cells of the developing central nervous system and could play, during neural development, a role that has remained unsuspected until recently. The present review focuses on the occurrence of neurotransmitters and their corresponding ligand-gated ion channel receptors in immature cells, including neural stem cells of specific embryonic and neonatal brain regions. We summarize in vitro and in vivo data arguing that neurotransmitters could regulate morphogenetic events such as proliferation, growth, migration, differentiation and survival of neural precursor cells. The understanding of neurotransmitter function during early neural maturation could lead to the development of pharmacological tools aimed at improving adult brain repair strategies. [less ▲]Detailed reference viewed: 46 (3 ULg)