Mazzone, 2013

2013 - Cell Death Dis. 2013 Oct 31;4:e902.

Excitotoxic cell death induces delayed proliferation of endogenous neuroprogenitor cells in organotypic slice cultures of the rat spinal cord

Mazzone GL, Mladinic M, Nistri A.


The aim of the present report was to investigate whether, in the mammalian spinal cord, cell death induced by transient excitotoxic stress could trigger activation and proliferation of endogenous neuroprogenitor cells as a potential source of a lesion repair process and the underlying time course. Because it is difficult to address these issues in vivo, we used a validated model of spinal injury based on rat organotypic slice cultures that retain the fundamental tissue cytoarchitecture and replicate the main characteristics of experimental damage to the whole spinal cord. Excitotoxicity evoked by 1 h kainate application produced delayed neuronal death (40%) peaking after 1 day without further losses or destruction of white matter cells for up to 2 weeks. After 10 days, cultures released a significantly larger concentration of endogenous glutamate, suggesting functional network plasticity. Indeed, after 1 week the total number of cells had returned to untreated control level, indicating substantial cell proliferation. Activation of progenitor cells started early as they spread outside the central area, and persisted for 2 weeks. Although expression of the neuronal progenitor phenotype was observed at day 3, peaked at 1 week and tapered off at 2 weeks, very few cells matured to neurons. Astroglia precursors started proliferating later and matured at 2 weeks. These data show insult-related proliferation of endogenous spinal neuroprogenitors over a relatively brief time course, and delineate a narrow temporal window for future experimental attempts to drive neuronal maturation and for identifying the factors regulating this process.


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