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Stem Cells International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 973508, 12 pages
Review Article

Impact of Lipid Nutrition on Neural Stem/Progenitor Cells

1Division of Developmental Neuroscience, United Centers for Advanced Research and Translational Medicine (ART), Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, 2-1 Seiryo-machi, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8575, Japan
2Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, 8 Ichiban-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-8472, Japan

Received 28 December 2012; Accepted 9 September 2013

Academic Editor: Kenneth Boheler

Copyright © 2013 Nobuyuki Sakayori et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The neural system originates from neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs). Embryonic NSPCs first proliferate to increase their numbers and then produce neurons and glial cells that compose the complex neural circuits in the brain. New neurons are continually produced even after birth from adult NSPCs in the inner wall of the lateral ventricle and in the hippocampal dentate gyrus. These adult-born neurons are involved in various brain functions, including olfaction-related functions, learning and memory, pattern separation, and mood control. NSPCs are regulated by various intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Diet is one of such important extrinsic factors. Of dietary nutrients, lipids are important because they constitute the cell membrane, are a source of energy, and function as signaling molecules. Metabolites of some lipids can be strong lipid mediators that also regulate various biological activities. Recent findings have revealed that lipids are important regulators of both embryonic and adult NSPCs. We and other groups have shown that lipid signals including fat, fatty acids, their metabolites and intracellular carriers, cholesterol, and vitamins affect proliferation and differentiation of embryonic and adult NSPCs. A better understanding of the NSPCs regulation by lipids may provide important insight into the neural development and brain function.