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  • Sanai Laboratory

    Nader Sanai, MD

    Laboratory Focus

    Characterization of adult central nervous system (CNS) germinal regions, such as the subventricular zone (SVZ) and dentate gyrus, has accelerated our understanding of stem and progenitor cell populations in the postnatal vertebrate brain. Studies of these same regions in the human brain, however, have revealed surprising differences from rodents in their structure and function in rodents. Specifically, the human SVZ is robustly proliferative during infancy. Then suddenly in childhood it stops expanding. During this window of neurogenesis, however, an unprecedented migratory stream delivers SVZ neuronal progeny to the human prefrontal cortex—a phenomenon without parallel in any other studied vertebrate, including primates.

    These findings underline the significance of studying progenitor populations in the human brain. Importantly, recent work suggests that gliomas, the most common primary brain tumor in humans, are initiated by glioma stem cells derived from postnatal glial progenitor cells (GPCs)—lineage-restricted cells that produce oligodendrocytes and astrocytes.

    Interestingly, GPCs are the most abundant progenitor cell population in the adult mammalian brain. Yet, the organization and composition of their niche in the subcortical white matter remains unexplored. Our laboratory’s efforts are aimed at characterizing human GPCs and their germinal niche, and at developing a new set of human GPC-specific transcriptional and metabolic markers that enable real-time tracking of GPCs and glioma stem cells in live human brain. Additional work is being pursued to improve the characterization of the role of cell polarity in progenitor and glioma-derived progenitor cells.

    Contact Information
    Nader Sanai, MD
    Barrow Brain Tumor Research Center
    350 West Thomas Road
    Phoenix, Arizona
    [email protected]

    About Barrow Neurological Institute
    Since our doors opened as a regional specialty center in 1962, we have grown into one of the premier destinations in the world for neurology and neurosurgery. Our experienced, highly skilled, and comprehensive team of neurological specialists can provide you with a complete spectrum of care–from diagnosis through outpatient neurorehabilitation–under one roof. Barrow Neurological Institute: Discover. Educate. Heal.