Immature neurons from CNS stem cells proliferate in response to platelet-derived growth factor

A Erlandsson, M Enarsson, K Forsberg-Nilsson
Journal of Neuroscience 2001 May 15, 21 (10): 3483-91
Identifying external signals involved in the regulation of neural stem cell proliferation and differentiation is fundamental to the understanding of CNS development. In this study we show that platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) can act as a mitogen for neural precursor cells. Multipotent stem cells from developing CNS can be maintained in a proliferative state under serum-free conditions in the presence of fibroblast growth factor-2 (FGF2) and induced to differentiate into neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes on withdrawal of the mitogen. PDGF has been suggested to play a role during the differentiation into neurons. We have investigated the effect of PDGF on cultured stem cells from embryonic rat cortex. The PDGF alpha-receptor is constantly expressed during differentiation of neural stem cells but is phosphorylated only after PDGF-AA treatment. In contrast, the PDGF beta-receptor is hardly detectable in uncommitted cells, but its expression increases during differentiation. We show that PDGF stimulation leads to c-fos induction, 5'-bromo-2'deoxyuridine incorporation, and an increase in the number of immature cells stained with antibodies to neuronal markers. Our findings suggest that PDGF acts as a mitogen in the early phase of stem cell differentiation to expand the pool of immature neurons.

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