Human neurospheres: From stained sections to three-dimensional assembly

Emanuela Monni, Terenzio Congiu, Denise Massa, Roxana Nat, Andrea Diana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human neurospheres are free-floating spherical clusters generated from a single neural stem cell and comprising cells at different stages of maturation in the neuronal and glial lineages. Although recent findings have disproved the original idea of clonally derived neurospheres according to the paradigm of one stem cell - one neurosphere, they still represent a valid model for growing neural stem cell cultures in vitro. While the immunocytochemical approach to the identification of stem cells, progenitor cells, and mature cells has been extensively used, scant data are available about the ultrastructural arrangement of different cell types within the neurosphere. This paper provides, by means of scanning electron microscopy, some new insights into the three-dimensional assembly of human neurospheres, trying to correlate some parameters such as cell density, shape and growing strategies with the immunolocalization of some antigens such as nestin, GFAP, alpha-internexin and beta III-tubulin. The major findings from this study are: a) regardless of the stage of in vitro maturation, the growth of the spheres is the result of mitotic divisions producing the aspect of an irregular budding mechanism in the outermost layer look like; b) analysis of the volumetric composition of the inner core has revealed the presence of two alternative shape pattern (pyramidal vs rounded cells) possibly related to both the ongoing maturation stages and GFAP and internexin expression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-48
JournalTranslational Neuroscience
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Neurology

Free keywords

  • Human neurospheres
  • Neural stem cells
  • Scanning electron microscopy
  • Immunocytochemistry


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