Neuronal survival in the brain: neuron type-specific mechanisms: neuron type-specific mechanisms

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewResearchpeer-review


Neurogenic regions of mammalian brain produce many more neurons that will eventually survive and reach a mature stage. Developmental cell death affects both embryonically produced immature neurons and those immature neurons that are generated in regions of adult neurogenesis. Removal of substantial numbers of neurons that are not yet completely integrated into the local circuits helps to ensure that maturation and homeostatic function of neuronal networks in the brain proceed correctly. External signals from brain microenvironment together with intrinsic signaling pathways determine whether a particular neuron will die. To accommodate this signaling, immature neurons in the brain express a number of transmembrane factors as well as intracellular signaling molecules that will regulate the cell survival/death decision, and many of these factors cease being expressed upon neuronal maturation. Furthermore, pro-survival factors and intracellular responses depend on the type of neuron and region of the brain. Thus, in addition to some common neuronal pro-survival signaling, different types of neurons possess a variety of 'neuron type-specific' pro-survival constituents that might help them to adapt for survival in a certain brain region. This review focuses on how immature neurons survive during normal and impaired brain development, both in the embryonic/neonatal brain and in brain regions associated with adult neurogenesis, and emphasizes neuron type-specific mechanisms that help to survive for various types of immature neurons. Importantly, we mainly focus on in vivo data to describe neuronal survival specifically in the brain, without extrapolating data obtained in the PNS or spinal cord, and thus emphasize the influence of the complex brain environment on neuronal survival during development.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2643
JournalCell Death & Disease
Issue number3
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2017

    Research areas

  • Journal Article, Review

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