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Front. Cell. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fncel.2018.00339

On the role of basal autophagy in adult neural stem cells and neurogenesis

  • 1Instituto de Biomedicina de Valencia (IBV), Spain

Adult neurogenesis persists in the adult mammalian brain due to the existence of neural stem cell (NSC) reservoirs in defined niches, where they give rise to new neurons throughout life. Recent research has begun to address the implication of constitutive (basal) autophagy in the regulation of neurogenesis in the mature brain. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the role of autophagy-related genes in modulating adult NSCs, progenitor cells and their differentiation into neurons. The general function of autophagy in neurogenesis in several areas of the embryonic forebrain is also revisited. During development, basal autophagy regulates Wnt and Notch signaling and is mainly required for adequate neuronal differentiation. The available data in the adult indicate that the autophagy-lysosomal pathway regulates adult NSC maintenance, the activation of quiescent NSCs, the survival of the newly born neurons and the timing of their maturation. Future research is warranted to validate the results of these pioneering studies, refine the molecular mechanisms underlying the regulation of NSCs and newborn neurons by autophagy throughout the life-span of mammals and provide significance to the autophagic process in adult neurogenesis-dependent behavioral tasks, in physiological and pathological conditions. These lines of research may have important consequences for our understanding of stem cell dysfunction and neurogenic decline during healthy aging and neurodegeneration.

Keywords: Neural stem cell (NSC), adult neurogenesis, autophagy (macroautophagy), Autophagy-lysosomal pathway, protein aggregate

Received: 26 Jul 2018; Accepted: 13 Sep 2018.

Edited by:

Sara Xapelli, Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Reviewed by:

Ana Martin-Villalba, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren (HZ), Germany
Filipa F. Ribeiro, Instituto de Medicina Molecular (IMM), Portugal  

Copyright: © 2018 Casares-Crespo, Calatayud-Baselga, García-Corzo and Mira. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Helena Mira, Instituto de Biomedicina de Valencia (IBV), Valencia, 28220, Madrid, Spain, hmira@ibv.csic.es