Neural stem cells in the adult ciliary epithelium express GFAP and are regulated by Wnt signaling

Ani V. Das, Xing Zhao, Jackson James, Min Kim, Kenneth H. Cowan, Iqbal Ahmad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


The identification of neural stem cells with retinal potential in the ciliary epithelium (CE) of the adult mammals is of considerable interest because of their potential for replacing or rescuing degenerating retinal neurons in disease or injury. The evaluation of such a potential requires characterization of these cells with regard to their phenotypic properties, potential, and regulatory mechanisms. Here, we demonstrate that rat CE stem cells/progenitors in neurosphere culture display astrocytic nature in terms of expressing glial intermediate neurofilament protein, GFAP. The GFAP-expressing CE stem cells/progenitors form neurospheres in proliferating conditions and generate neurons when shifted to differentiating conditions. These cells express components of the canonical Wnt pathway and its activation promotes their proliferation. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the activation of the canonical Wnt pathway influences neuronal differentiation of CE stem cells/progenitors in a context dependent manner. Our observations suggest that CE stem cells/progenitors share phenotypic properties and regulatory mechanism(s) with neural stem cells elsewhere in the adult CNS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)708-716
Number of pages9
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 13 2006


  • Ciliary epithelium
  • GFAP
  • Neurogenesis
  • Progenitors
  • Retina
  • Stem cells
  • Wnt signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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