Murine Neural Stem/Progenitor Cells Protect Neurons against Ischemia by HIF-1a¿Regulated VEGF Signaling

Harms KM, etc
PLoS ONE, 2009

Focal cerebral ischemia following middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) stimulates a robust cytogenic response from the adult subventricular zone (SVZ) that includes massive proliferation of neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs) and cellular migration into the injury area. To begin to explore beneficial roles of NSPCs in this response, we investigated the ability of embryonic and postnatal NSPCs to promote neuronal survival under conditions of in vivo and in vitro ischemia. Intracerebral transplantation of NSPCs attenuated neuronal apoptosis in response to focal ischemia induced by transient MCAO, and prevented neuronal cell death of cortical neurons in response to oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD) in culture. NSPC-mediated neuroprotection was blocked by the pharmacological inhibitors of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), SU1498 and Flt-1Fc. Embryonic and postnatal NSPCs were both intrinsically resistant to brief OGD exposure, and constitutively expressed both hypoxia-inducible factor 1a (HIF-1a) transcription factor and its downstream target, VEGF. Genomic deletion of HIF-1a by Cre-mediated excision of exon 2 in NSPC cultures resulted in >50% reduction of VEGF production and ablation of NSPC-mediated neuroprotection. These findings indicate that NSPCs promote neuronal survival under ischemic conditions via HIF-1a-VEGF signaling pathways and support a role for NSPCs in promotion of neuronal survival following stroke.

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doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0009767
University of New Mexico