Development and Aging of the Ventricular System Stem Cell Niche and Barrier System

an illustration of brain neuron cells

Semcer Center for Healthcare Innovation

Location: Gateway North 103, Corcoran Room

Speaker: Dr. Joanne Conover, Professor, Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT


In fetal/embryonic development, stem cells line the ventricles and provide neurons and glia cells required for brain development. Ventricle-contacting stem cells also generate a protective epithelial monolayer of ependymal cells that lines the entire ventricular system. As ependymal cells form to provide a barrier and transport epithelium along the ventricles, remaining stem cells along the lateral ventricle wall are relegated to the subependymal zone, retaining only a thin apical process at the ventricle surface. This unique cytoarchitectural organization of stem cells and ependymal barrier cells characterizes the neurogenic stem cell niche of the lateral ventricles and supports continued neurogenesis. With age, stem cell numbers are reduced, and, in humans, ventricle enlargement typically occurs after 60-years of age. Accompanying age-related ventriculomegaly, astrogliosis is found along the ventricle surface.

Work in my laboratory focuses on the brain’s stem cell niches and how they contribute to early neurogenesis, ependymogenesis and gliogenesis. I will discuss how these processes change during postnatal development and in situations of injury, disease, and aging. Examination of both rodent and human developmental, maintenance, and repair processes along the ventricle wall allow comparative investigations that reveal similarities and differences between species, and inform our understanding of the regenerative capacity of the brain.


Head shot of Joanne Conover

Dr. Conover is a Professor in the Department of Physiology and Neurobiology. Her research focuses on the analysis of stem cell fate decisions, and she uses single cell transcriptomic and proteomics, 3D modeling, together with predictive modeling to understand transition states throughout development and into aging. She received training at the University of Pennsylvania, Regeneron Pharmaceutical, Rockefeller University, and the Jackson Labs.

Visit the CHI Seminar page to view the fall 2023 seminar schedule.