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Atorvastatin promotes presenilin-1 expression and Notch1 activity and increases neural progenitor cell proliferation after stroke

Jieli Chen, Alex Zacharek, Ang Li, Xu Cui, Cynthia Roberts, Mei Lu, Michael Chopp
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 2008, 39 (1): 220-6
18063826

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Presenilin1 (PS1) regulates Notch1 signaling activity, which liberates Notch intracellular domain (NICD). Notch activation promotes neural progenitor cell (NPC) self-renewal in the developing brain. In this study, we tested whether atorvastatin-induced NPC proliferation after stroke is mediated by PS1 and Notch1 activation.

METHODS: PS1 and NICD expressions were measured in retired breeder rats subjected to middle cerebral artery occlusion that were left untreated or treated with atorvastatin. To investigate the mechanisms of atorvastatin-induced NPC self-renewal, subventricular zone (SVZ) neurosphere culture and knockdown of Notch1 gene expression by short interfering RNA were used. SVZ neurosphere formation, cell proliferation, real-time polymerase chain reaction, and Western blotting were performed.

RESULTS: Atorvastatin significantly increased the numbers of newly generated neuroblasts and promoted PS1 and NICD expression in the ipsilateral and homologous contralateral SVZ compared with saline-treated control rats. Increased SVZ neurosphere formation and cell proliferation were found in cultured neurospheres derived from normal rat and poststroke rat SVZs treated in vitro with atorvastatin compared with untreated neurospheres (P<0.05). Atorvastatin significantly increased PS1 and hairy and enhancer of split1 (Hes1) gene expression in cultured SVZ neurospheres. Inhibition of PS1 significantly decreased NICD expression. Short interfering RNA knockdown of Notch1 expression, decreased NPC proliferation, and NICD and hairy and enhancer of split1 expression in cultured neurosphere cells.

CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that atorvastatin increases the NPC pool in older rats and that it also upregulates PS1 expression and Notch1 signaling activity, which in turn, facilitate an increase in SVZ NPC proliferation.

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