Published online May 26, 2015. doi: 10.4252/wjsc.v7.i4.700
Peer-review started: October 22, 2014
First decision: November 27, 2014
Revised: January 30, 2015
Accepted: March 18, 2015
Article in press: March 20, 2015
Published online: May 26, 2015
Core tip: Neural stem cells (NSCs) are capable of extensive self-renewal while preserving the ability to generate cell progeny that can differentiate into different cell types from the nervous system. Intrinsic mediators as well as extrinsic cues provided by the neurogenic niche (microenvironment where NSCs reside in vivo) are important for stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. Epigenetic changes, including alterations in DNA methylation, histone modifications and imprinting alter the way a gene interacts with the cell transcribing machinery, turning genes “on” or “off”. These heritable changes must be reversible and context-dependent being responsible of stem cell plasticity.