The isolation of neural stem cells (NSCs) has been hampered by the lack of valid cell-surface antigens on NSCs, and novel valuable markers have been proposed. Glycan (oligosaccharide chain) is a potential candidate as a marker to isolate NSCs, because the species and the combination order of saccharides in glycan generate remarkable structural diversity and specificity. At present, the expression of hundreds of glycoconjugates with glycans have been found in the NSCs; however, just a few glycan-epitopes have been identified as valuable cell-surface markers. This review focused on the isolation of NSC using glycoprotein, especially complex type N-glycans. The cell-surface N-glycan-mediated isolation of NSCs is therefore expected to provide a comprehensive understanding of the biologic characteristics of NSCs in the brain, and thereby help to develop novel strategies in the field of regenerative medicine.
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