Voltage-gated K+ channels are key regulators of neuronal excitability, playing major roles in setting resting membrane potential, repolarizing the cell membrane after action potentials and affecting transmitter release. The M-type channel or M-channel is a unique voltage- and ligand-regulated K+ channel. It is composed of the molecular counterparts KCNQ2 and KCNQ3 (also named Kv7.2 and Kv7.3) channels and expressed in the soma and dendrites of neurons. The present investigation examined the hypothesis that KCNQ2/3 channels played a regulatory role in neuronal differentiation and maturation. In cultured mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells undergoing neuronal differentiation and primary embryonic (E15-17) hippocampal cultures, KCNQ2 and KCNQ3 channels and underlying M-currents were identified. Blocking of KCNQ channels in these cells for 5 days using the specific channel blocker XE991 (10 μM) or linopirdine (30 μM) significantly decreased synaptophysin and syntaxin expression without affecting cell viability. Chronic KCNQ2/3 channel block reduced the expression of vesicular GABA transporter (v-GAT), but not vesicular glutamate transporter (v-GluT). Enhanced ERK1/2 phosphorylation was observed in XE991- and linopirdine-treated neural progenitor cells. In electrophysiological recordings, cells undergoing chronic block of KCNQ2/3 channels showed normal amplitude of mPSCs while the frequency of mPSCs was reduced. On the other hand, KCNQ channel opener N-Ethylmaleimide (NEM, 2 μM) increased mPSC frequency. Fluorescent imaging using fluorescent styryl-dye FM4-64 revealed that chronic blockade of KCNQ2/3 channels decreased endocytosis but facilitated exocytosis. These data indicate that KCNQ2/3 channels participate in regulation of neuronal differentiation and show a tonic regulation on pre-synaptic transmitter release and recycling in developing neuronal cells.
M-current; synaptogenesis; Neuronal differentiation; Mouse ES cells; Hippocampal neurons; KCNQ channels; ERK1/2
Over-activation of certain K+ channels can mediate intracellular K+ depletion, which is an early ionic event in apoptotic cascade. The present investigation examined a possible role of the KCNQ2/3 channel or M-channel (also named Kv7.2/7.3 channels) in the pro-apoptotic process. Whole-cell recordings detected significantly greater M-currents (212 ± 31 pA or 10.5 ± 1.5 pA/pF) in cultured hippocampal neurons than in cultured cortical neurons (47 ± 21 pA or 2.4 ± 0.8 pA/pF). KCNQ2/3 channel openers N-ethylmaleimide (NEM) and flupirtine caused dose-dependent K+ efflux, intracellular K+ depletion, and cell death in hippocampal cultures while little cell death was induced by NEM in cortical cultures. The NEM-induced cell death was antagonized by co-applied KCNQ channel inhibitor XE991 (10 μM), or by elevated extracellular potassium. Supporting a mediating role in apoptosis, expression of KCNQ2 or KCNQ2/3 channels in CHO cells initiated caspase-3 activation. Consistently, application of NEM (20 μM) in hippocampal cultures similarly caused caspase-3 activation. NEM increased the expression of extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2), induced mitochondrial membrane depolarization, cytochrome c release, formation of apoptosome complex, and AIF translocation into the nucleus. All these events were attenuated by blocking KCNQ2/3 channels. These findings provide novel evidence that KCNQ2/3 channels could be an important regulator in neuronal apoptosis.
Apoptosis; Hippocampal neurons; Cortical Neurons; Kv7 channel; M-current; KCNQ channel; ERK1/2
Honokiol is a poly-phenolic compound that exerts neuroprotective properties through a variety of mechanisms. It has therapeutic potential in anxiety, pain, cerebrovascular injury, epilepsy, and cognitive disorders including Alzheimer’s disease. It has been traditionally used in medical practices throughout much of Southeast Asia, but has now become more widely studied due to its pleiotropic effects. Most current research regarding this compound has focused on its chemotherapeutic properties. However, it has the potential to be an effective neuroprotective agent as well. This review summarizes what is currently known regarding the mechanisms involved in the neuroprotective and anesthetic effects of this compound and identifies potential areas for further research.
honokiol; neuroprotection; GABA; stroke; inflammatory pain; amyloid; magnolol; analgesia
Hypoxic preconditioning of stem cells and neural progenitor cells has been tested for promoting cell survival after transplantation. The present investigation examined the hypothesis that hypoxic preconditioning of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) could not only enhance their survival but also reinforce regenerative properties of these cells. BMSCs from eGFP engineered rats or pre-labeled with BrdU were pre-treated with normoxia (20% O2, N-BMSCs) or sublethal hypoxia (0.5% O2. H-BMSCs). The hypoxia exposure up-regulated HIF-1α and trophic/growth factors in BMSCs, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptor FIK-1, erythropoietin (EPO) and its receptor EPOR, stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1) and its CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4). Meanwhile, many pro-inflammatory cytokines/chemokines were downregulated in H-BMSCs. N-BMSCs or H-BMSCs were intravenously injected into adult rats 24 hrs after 90-min middle cerebral artery occlusion. Comparing to N-BMSCs, transplantation of H-BMSCs showed greater effect of suppressing microglia activity in the brain. Significantly more NeuN-positive and Glut1-positive cells were seen in the ischemic core and peri-infarct regions of the animals received H-BMSC transplantation than that received N-BMSCs. Some NeuN-positive and Glut-1-positive cells showed eGFP or BrdU immunoflourescent reactivity, suggesting differentiation from exogenous BMSCs into neuronal and vascular endothelial cells. In Rota-rod test performed 15 days after stroke, animals received H-BMSCs showed better locomotion recovery compared with stroke control and N-BMSC groups. We suggest that hypoxic preconditioning of transplanted cells is an effective means of promoting their regenerative capability and therapeutic potential for the treatment of ischemic stroke.
hypoxic preconditioning; bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell; transplantation; angiogenesis; neurogenesis
Serine-arginine protein kinases 2 (SRPK2) is a cell cycle-regulated kinase that phosphorylates serine/arginine domain-containing proteins and mediates pre-mRNA splicing with unclear function in neurons. Here, we show that SRPK2 phosphorylates tau on S214, suppresses tau-dependent microtubule polymerization and inhibits axonal elongation in neurons. Depletion of SRPK2 in dentate gyrus inhibits tau phosphorylation in APP/PS1 mouse and alleviates the impaired cognitive behaviors. The defective LTP in APP/PS1 mice is also improved after SRPK2 depletion. Moreover, active SRPK2 is increased in the cortex of APP/PS1 mice and the pathological structures of human Alzheimer’s disease (AD) brain. Therefore, our study suggests SRPK2 may contribute to the formation of hyperphosphorylated tau and the pathogenesis of AD.
Bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) have shown great promise for ischemic tissue repair. However, poor viability of transplanted BMSCs within ischemic tissues has limited their therapeutic potential. Apelin, an endogenous peptide, whose level is elevated following ischemia, has been shown to enhance survival of cardiomyocytes and neuronal cells during ischemia. We hypothesized that apelin-13 protects BMSCs from apoptotic death. In this paper we determined the potential mechanism of apelin-13 effects using cultured BMSCs from adult rats. Apoptosis was induced by the specific apoptotic insult serum deprivation (SD) for up to 36 hrs. Apoptotic cell death was measured using immunostaining and Western blotting in the presence and absence of apelin-13 (0.1 to 5.0 nM) co-applied during SD exposure. SD-induced apoptosis was significantly reduced by apelin-13 in a concentration-dependent manner. SD-induced mitochondrial depolarization, cytochrome c release, and caspase-3 activation were largely prevented by apelin-13. The apelin-13 anti-apoptotic effects were blocked by inhibiting the MAPK/ERK1/2 and PI3K/Akt signaling pathways. Taken together, our findings indicate that apelin-13 is a survival factor for BMSCs and its anti-apoptotic property may prove to be of therapeutic significance in terms of exploiting BMSC-based transplantation therapy.
Apelin-13; Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells; Serum deprivation; Apoptosis
Neurons in the adult mammalian CNS do not spontaneously regenerate axons after injury due to CNS myelin and other inhibitory factors. Previous studies have showed that inhibition of the Rho-ROCK pathway promotes axonal outgrowth in primary neurons or in spinal cord injury models. Furthermore, RhoA inhibitor C3 transferase has a potential effect to induce neural differentiation in primary cultured neurons and cell lines. As stem cells and stem cell-derived neural progenitor cells have emerged as a regenerative medicine for stroke, Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders, strategies that can promote axonal outgrowth and neuronal differentiation appear to have promising benefits in the cell-based therapy. Currently, how changes in the Rho-ROCK pathway may affect the neurite outgrowth and neuronal differentiation of stem cells has been poorly understood. The present investigation examined the effects of RhoA inhibition on neurite outgrowth and neuronal differentiation of neural stem cells (NSCs) isolated from the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the mouse. Our results show that inhibition of RhoA leads to neurite outgrowth of NSCs not only on normal culture substrate, poly-D-lysine (PDL), but also on myelin substrate. Moreover, inhibition of RhoA improves neuronal differentiation of NSCs and up-regulates biomarkers of neuronal gene expression. These results support that the Rho signaling pathway plays an important role in neurite development and neuronal differentiation of NSCs.
Neural stem cells; Rho signaling pathway; neurite outgrowth; neuronal differentiation; myelin
Heparanase is a heparan sulfate degrading endoglycosidase. Previous work has demonstrated that heparanase plays important roles in various biological processes including angiogenesis, wound healing and metastasis. However, the role of heparanase in the post-ischemic brain is not well defined. Transient focal cerebral ischemia in adult mice was induced by ligations of the right middle cerebral artery (MCA) and both common carotid arteries (CCAs). All mice were subjected to bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) injection and sacrificed at different time points after stroke for immunohistochemical and Western blot analyses. Heparanase expression increased after ischemia in both cell-specific and time-dependent manners. Three to 7 days after stroke, levels of the 50-kD heparanase, basic fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2), and angiopoietin-2 (Ang-2) increased in the peri-infarct region. At early time points, heparanase expression was largely confined to proliferating vascular endothelial cells. At 14 days after ischemia, this expression had shifted to astrocytes in the same region. These data show that cerebral ischemia markedly increases heparanase levels in endothelial cells and then in astrocytes. The unique features of the heparanase upregulation imply that heparanase may play specific roles in the pathological and regenerative processes during the acute and sub-acute/chronic phase in the post-stroke brain.
Heparanase; Cerebral ischemia; Endothelial cells; Astrocytes; Angiogenesis; FGF-2; Angiopoietin-2
dl-3-n-Butylphthalide (NBP) has shown cytoprotective effects in animal models of stroke and has passed clinical trails as a therapeutic drug for stroke in China. Hence, as a potential clinical treatment for stroke, understanding the mechanism(s) of action of NBP is essential. This investigation aimed to delineate the cellular and molecular mechanism of NBP protection in neuronal cultures and in the ischemic brain. NBP (10 M) attenuated serum deprivation-induced neuronal apoptosis and the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in cortical neuronal cultures. Adult male 129 S2/sv mice were subjected to permanent occlusion of the middle cerebral artery (MCA). NBP (100 mg/kg, i.p.) administrated 2 hrs before or 1 hr after ischemia reduced ischemia-induced infarct formation, attenuated caspase-3 and caspase-9 activation in the ischemic brain. TUNEL-positive cells and mitochondrial release of cytochrome c and apoptosis-inducing-factor (AIF) in the penumbra region were reduced by NBP. The pro-apoptotic signaling mediated by phospho-JNK and p38 expression was down-regulated by NBP treatment in vitro and in vivo. It is suggested that NBP protects against ischemic damage via multiple mechanisms including mitochondria associated caspase-dependent and -independent apoptotic pathways. Previous and current studies and recent clinical trials encourage exploration of NBP as a neuroprotective drug for the treatment of ischemic stroke.
dl-3-n-butylphthalide; Ischemic stroke; Apoptosis; Caspase; AIF; Cytochrome C; Mitochondria; MAP kinase
The adipocytokine apelin and its G protein-coupled APJ receptor were initially isolated from a bovine stomach and have been detected in the brain and cardiovascular system. Recent studies suggest that apelin can protect cardiomyocytes from ischemic injury. Here, we investigated the effect of apelin on apoptosis in mouse primary cultures of cortical neurons. Exposure of the cortical cultures to a serum-free medium for 24 hrs induced nuclear fragmentation and apoptotic death; apelin-13 (1.0 – 5.0 nM) markedly prevented the neuronal apoptosis. Apelin neuroprotective effects were mediated by multiple mechanisms. Apelin-13 reduced serum deprivation (SD)-induced ROS generation, mitochondria depolarization, cytochrome c release and activation of caspase-3. Apelin-13 prevented SD-induced changes in phosphorylation status of Akt and ERK1/2. In addition, apelin-13 attenuated NMDA-induced intracellular Ca2+ accumulation. These results indicate that apelin is an endogenous neuroprotective adipocytokine that may block apoptosis and excitotoxic death via cellular and molecular mechanisms. It is suggested that apelins may be further explored as a potential neuroprotective reagent for ischemia-induced brain damage.
Cortical neurons; Apelin; Serum deprivation; Apoptosis
Increasing evidence has shown the potential of neuronal plasticity in adult brain after injury. Neural proliferation can be triggered by a focal sublethal ischemic preconditioning event; whether mild global ischemia could cause neurogenesis has been not clear. The present study investigated stimulating effects of sublethal transient global ischemia (TGI) on endogenous neurogenesis and neuroblast migration in the subventricular zone (SVZ), dentate gyrus, and peri-infarct areas of the adult cortex. Adult mice of 129S2/Sv strain were subjected to 8-min bilateral common carotid artery ligation followed by 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU; 50 mg/kg, intraperitoneal) administration every day until being sacrificed at 1–21 days after reperfusion. The mild TGI did not induce neuronal cell death for up to 7 days after TGI, as evidenced by negative terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling staining among NeuN-positive cells in the hippocampus and neocortex. In TGI animals, BrdU staining revealed enhanced proliferation of neuroblasts and their migration track from the SVZ into the striatum and neocortex. In the corpus callosum, there were more BrdU-positive cells in the TGI group in the first 2 days. Increasing numbers of BrdU-positive cells were seen 7–21 days later in the striatum and cortex of TGI mice. The cortex of TGI animals showed increased expression of erythropoietin, erythropoietin receptor, fibroblast growth factor 2, vascular endothelial growth factor, and phosphorylated Jun N-terminal kinase; the expression was peaked 2 to 3 days after reperfusion. BrdU and NeuN double staining in the dentate gyrus, striatum, and cortex implied increased neurogenesis induced by the TGI preconditioning. Doublecortin (DCX)-positive cells increased in the cortex of TGI mice, localized to cortical layers II, III, and V, and many stained positive for the mature neuronal markers NeuN, neurofilament, N-methyl-d-aspartic acid receptor subunit gene NR1, or the gamma-aminobutyric-acid-synthesizing enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD67). The atypical localization of DCX-positive cells and the colabeling with mature neuronal markers suggested that, in addition to indentifying migrating neuroblasts, DCX might also be a stress marker in the cortex. It is suggested that the sublethal TGI-induced regenerative responses may contribute to the beneficial effects of ischemic preconditioning.
Transient global ischemia; Neuroblasts; Neurogenesis; Cell migration; Doublecortin (DCX); Subventricular zone (SVZ)
Painful stimuli during neonatal stage may affect brain development and contribute to abnormal behaviors in adulthood. Very few specific therapies are available for this developmental disorder. A better understanding of the mechanisms and consequences of painful stimuli during the neonatal period is essential for the development of effective therapies. In this study, we examined brain reactions in a neonatal rat model of peripheral inflammatory pain. We focused on the inflammatory insult-induced brain responses and delayed changes in behavior and pain sensation. Postnatal day 3 pups received formalin injections into the paws once a day for 3 days. The insult induced dysregulation of several inflammatory factors in the brain and caused selective neuronal cell death in the cortex, hippocampus and hypothalamus. On postnatal day 21, rats that received the inflammatory nociceptive insult exhibited increased local cerebral blood flow in the somatosensory cortex, hyperalgesia, and decreased exploratory behaviors. Based on these observations, we tested recombinant human erythropoietin (rhEPO) as a potential treatment to prevent the inflammatory pain-induced changes. rhEPO treatment (5,000 U/kg/day, i.p.), coupled to formalin injections, ameliorated neuronal cell death and normalized the inflammatory response. Rats that received formalin plus rhEPO exhibited normal levels of cerebral blood flow, pain sensitivity and exploratory behavior. Treatment with rhEPO also restored normal brain and body weights that were reduced in the formalin group. These data suggest that severe inflammatory pain has adverse effects on brain development and rhEPO may be a possible therapy for the prevention and treatment of this developmental disorder.
pain; erythropoietin; neonates; inflammatory; cerebral blood flow; cell death
Signals in the tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) pathway are upregulated after ischemia, yet its role in peripheral ischemia remains unclear. We investigated the effect of TNF-α receptor 1 (TNFR-1) in acute limb ischemia of TNFR-1 knockout (TNFR-1−/−) and wild type (WT, TNFR-1+/+) mice. Laser Doppler scanning showed that although pre-ischemia blood flow levels were similar in these mice, the limb reperfusion after ischemia was significantly higher in TNFR-1−/− mice 1–7 days after injury. Consistently, fewer TUNEL-positive cells, less DNA fragmentation, and a lower ischemic score were detected in the TNFR-1−/− group when compared to WT controls. Western blot analysis revealed less expression of pro-apoptotic markers Bax and cleaved caspase-3 in TNFR-1−/− mice 1 day after ischemia, supporting the hypothesis that the absence of TNFR-1 results in a reduction of apoptosis. The rate of post-ischemia amputation was 50% in WT mice versus 0% in TNFR-1−/− mice. However, immunohistochemical co-staining of microvessel marker CD31 and cellular proliferation marker BrdU 21 days after ischemia showed an impaired angiogenic activity in the TNFR-1−/− mice. These data were supported by Western blot analysis, which indicated a decreased expression of angiopoietin-1 (Ang-1) and its receptor Tie-2 in TNFR-1−/− mice. Our results suggest that a deficiency in TNFR-1 prevents the activation of death-related proteins downstream to TNF-α and attenuates apoptosis in acute limb ischemia, but the lack of TNFR-1 signaling hinders the belated angiogenesis mediated by the Ang-1/Tie-2 pathway.
angiogenesis; apoptosis; peripheral ischemia; TNFR-1
Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) plays key roles in cell adhesion and migration. We now report that the delayed rectifier Kv2.1 potassium channel, through its LD-like motif in N-terminus, may interact with FAK and enhance phosphorylation of FAK397 and FAK576/577. Overlapping distribution of Kv2.1 and FAK was observed on soma and proximal dendrites of cortical neurons. FAK expression promotes a polarized membrane distribution of the Kv2.1 channel. In Kv2.1-transfected CHO cells, formation of the Kv2.1-FAK complex was stimulated by fibronectin/integrin and inhibited by the K+ channel blocker tetraethylammonium (TEA). FAK phosphorylation was minimized by shRNA knockdown of the Kv2.1 channel, point mutations of the N-terminus, and TEA, respectively. Cell migration morphology was altered by Kv2.1 knockdown or TEA, hindering cell migration activity. In wound healing tests in vitro and a traumatic injury animal model, Kv2.1 expression and co-localization of Kv2.1 and FAK significantly enhanced directional cell migration and wound closure. It is suggested that the Kv2.1 channel may function as a promoting signal for FAK activation and cell motility.
Adhesion; Migration; FAK; Kv2.1 channel; Phosphorylation; Wound healing
Peripheral stimulation and physical therapy can promote neurovascular plasticity and functional recovery after CNS disorders such as ischemic stroke. Using a rodent model of whisker-barrel cortex stroke, we have previously demonstrated that whisker activity promotes angiogenesis in the penumbra of the ischemic barrel cortex. This study explored the potential of increased peripheral activity to promote neurogenesis and neural progenitor migration toward the ischemic barrel cortex.
Three days after focal barrel cortex ischemia in adult mice, whiskers were manually stimulated (15 min × 3 times/day) to enhance afferent signals to the ischemic barrel cortex. 5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU, i.p.) was administered once daily to label newborn cells. At 14 days after stroke, whisker stimulation significantly increased vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1) expression in the penumbra. The whisker stimulation animals showed increased doublecortin (DCX) positive and DCX/BrdU-positive cells in the ipsilateral corpus of the white matter but no increase in BrdU-positive cells in the subventricular zone, suggesting a selective effect on neuroblast migration. Neurogenesis indicated by neuronal nuclear protein (NeuN) and BrdU double staining was also enhanced by whisker stimulation in the penumbra at 30 days after stroke. Local cerebral blood flow was better recovered in mice that received whisker stimulation. It is suggested that the enriched microenvironment created by specific peripheral stimulation increases regenerative responses in the post-ischemic brain and may benefit long-term functional recovery from ischemic stroke.
Neurogenesis; Ischemic stroke; Barrel cortex; Whisker stimulation; Cell migration
Stroke is a leading cause of human death and disability in the adult population in the United States and around the world. While stroke treatment is limited, stem cell transplantation has emerged as a promising regenerative therapy to replace or repair damaged tissues and enhance functional recovery after stroke. Recently, the creation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells through reprogramming of somatic cells has revolutionized cell therapy by providing an unlimited source of autologous cells for transplantation. In addition, the creation of vector-free and transgene-free human iPS (hiPS) cells provides a new generation of stem cells with a reduced risk of tumor formation that was associated with the random integration of viral vectors seen with previous techniques. However, the potential use of these cells in the treatment of ischemic stroke has not been explored. In the present investigation, we examined the neuronal differentiation of vector-free and transgene-free hiPS cells and the transplantation of hiPS cell-derived neural progenitor cells (hiPS-NPCs) in an ischemic stroke model in mice. Vector-free hiPS cells were maintained in feeder-free and serum-free conditions and differentiated into functional neurons in vitro using a newly developed differentiation protocol. Twenty eight days after transplantation in stroke mice, hiPS-NPCs showed mature neuronal markers in vivo. No tumor formation was seen up to 12 months after transplantation. Transplantation of hiPS-NPCs restored neurovascular coupling, increased trophic support and promoted behavioral recovery after stroke. These data suggest that using vector-free and transgene-free hiPS cells in stem cell therapy are safe and efficacious in enhancing recovery after focal ischemic stroke in mice.