Hypoxia in the regulation of neural stem cells

Lidia De Filippis, Domenico Delia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In aerobic organisms, oxygen is a critical factor in tissue and organ morphogenesis from embryonic development throughout post-natal life, as it regulates various intracellular pathways involved in cellular metabolism, proliferation, survival and fate. In the mammalian central nervous system, oxygen plays a critical role in regulating the growth and differentiation state of neural stem cells (NSCs), multipotent neuronal precursor cells that reside in a particular microenvironment called the neural stem cell niche and that, under certain physiological and pathological conditions, differentiate into fully functional mature neurons, even in adults. In both experimental and clinical settings, oxygen is one of the main factors influencing NSCs. In particular, the physiological condition of mild hypoxia (2.5-5.0% O 2) typical of neural tissues promotes NSC self-renewal; it also favors the success of engraftment when in vitro-expanded NSCs are transplanted into brain of experimental animals. In this review, we analyze how O 2 and specifically hypoxia impact on NSC self-renewal, differentiation, maturation, and homing in various in vitro and in vivo settings, including cerebral ischemia, so as to define the O 2 conditions for successful cell replacement therapy in the treatment of brain injury and neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2831-2844
Number of pages14
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2011


  • Human stem cells
  • Hypoxia
  • Ischemia
  • Neural stem cells
  • Neurodegenerative diseases
  • Neurovascular niche
  • Oxygen

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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