It is becoming apparent that neural stem cells display some differences in their behaviour depending on the region of the CNS they originate from and on whether they are derived from embryonic or adult tissue. Whereas much work has focused on brain neural stem cells, less attention has been paid to spinal cord neural precursors, particularly in the developing human embryo. We briefly review here some of our work which points at some similarities between neural precursors in developing human spinal cords and in animals which can regenerate their spinal cord (e.g. tailed amphibians), and at differences in the properties of human neural precursors with spinal cord development. Altogether these studies suggest the existence of dynamic neural stem cell populations within the developing spinal cord. They also support the notion that thorough characterization of neural stem cells under different culture conditions and analysis of how these may affect their differentiation in vivo after grafting into different injury models is imperative if we are to develop effective cell therapy strategies for spinal cord injury and diseases.

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